Now We Know Who Leaked the E-mails

Revised May 9, 2011, 6:00pm.

The Mayman — Stokoe Alliance

We were assured by Stokoe in that high-minded tone of smug self-confidence that hangs over OCANews like bad perfume in an old taxi, that the purloined emails in his possession were not obtained “illegally.” What this means is anybody’s guess. Stokoe is as much a lawyer as he is journalist. Can’t dig much dirt with that shovel. (Here’s some interesting reading on the questions raised though: Investigating Personal Web-Based E-Mail.)

Some private sleuthing has revealed who the hacker was, however. It is clear that emails could only have come from one of two sources: Fr. Fester’s 1) laptop, or 2) former desktop. The former desktop is in Dallas. It sits in his former office. That office is occupied by Bp. Mark Maymon. Bp. Mark leaked the emails.

Yup, Maymon leaked the emails. Yesterday after Liturgy, Bp. Mark was confronted by several people who asked him point blank if he stole the emails. He admitted it. He was chagrined at first, then defiant. He said that he had the right as the administrator of the diocesan office to look at Fr. Fester’s emails. Really? Even then, why did he give them to Stokoe?

I don’t expect much in the way of ethics from Stokoe. The man traffics in gossip. But Bp. Mark? I’m really surprised. You expect higher standards from a bishop. What are we left with? A bishop who claims the right to purloin a password from a computer cache, use it to log into a former employee’s cloud-based email account, and then forward emails to the Perez Hilton of the OCA. What was he thinking? And what was Stokoe thinking when he received them?

You don’t open a man’s mail Bp. Mark, even if it is sitting in an envelope on your desk. You don’t open a man’s mail Stokoe, even if it ends up in your mail box by mistake. Where I’m from, whenever you get your neighbor’s mail you either bring it over to his house or give it back to the mail carrier. It’s called basic Christian decency and basic common law.

Bp. Mark muttered something about forwarding the emails to the Holy Synod, not Stokoe. If that’s true, it just got worse. Not only does Bp. Mark betray confidences, so does another bishop or two on the synod.

This reeks of the tawdry manipulations of Stokoe. It indicates somebody besides Bp. Mark is sharing his bed. How do the good folks of the OCA feel knowing that a bishop or two have an open line to Perez Stokoe? Do we call it the Stokovite Synod from here on out? And who was the bishop that Maymon forwarded the emails to, and why did he forward them to Stokoe?

We warned the Metropolitan Council that they would take a big hit to their credibility if they didn’t fire Stokoe. Stokoe and a handful of cohorts plotted to blacken and remove +Jonah. The leaked emails with Stokoe’s name on them proves it. They did nothing leaving the impression that the MC gave its tacit approval to Team Stokoe’s malfeasance. They needed to act but didn’t and now they look weak and compromised and in the palm of Stokoe’s hand.

Now it’s the Synod’s turn. If Bp. Mark told the truth when he said he forwarded the purloined emails to the Synod as well as or in place of sending them to Stokoe (we are not sure which – Maymon’s word isn’t worth much these days), this is looking more and more like the Mark Stokoe show rather than Orthodox Church of America. If they remain silent, they too communicate complicity.

Mark Stokoe has a teflon veneer. He is offered tremendous latitude in his dealings because he is seen as the rescuer of the OCA from +Herman and (the former Fr.) Kontradick, the two big bad wolves of the ancien regime. But given his underhanded dealings today, how reliable was his reporting back then? Was everything really the way he portrayed it to be?

There is no question that corruption entered the Church under +Theodosios and +Herman. There also is no question that some of this corruption was sexual in nature. So can anyone explain why homosexual alliances such as Burke and his live-in boyfriend in Miami is verboten, but Mark Stokoe’s alliance is not?

Why the double standard? Why are the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops complicit with it? And, since they are, can we really say that the corruption of the previous decades has been swept clean?

The answer is clear: No, it has not. It continues forward in the same way it always did.

The Problem in the Diocese of the South

We in the South have a major problem, one we’ve never had in the past. Maybe the Stokovite Rules of Engagement are par for the course in the moribund parishes of the East Coast, but southerners live by different rules.

For a little over thirty years we had a vigorous bishop named +Dmitri Royster. He wasn’t perfect (nobody is) but his word was his bond. He was a father-confessor to his priests, spiritual adviser to his congregations, and a loving grandfather to his priests’ wives and families. Nobody in their right mind would ever believed he would betray a trust or play con-games with shoddy “journalists” and their impoverished ideas about church governance — not in a million years.

How times have changed!

The confidence that a bishop needs to have with his deans and priests is impossible under Bp. Mark, especially since he has admitted to leaking the emails. Basic trust has been irretrievably broken. How will the clergy confide in this man knowing that he is one of Stokoe leakers?

Sound harsh? Then consider this: Maymon and Stokoe have already manipulated the firing of Fr. Fester. They man they stole the emails from is out of a job and possibly out of a home. Nice work comrades!

Further, there is no way that I, or any other layman in the South, will look at Bp. Mark as our Archpastor. The circumstances make it impossible. When we see him, we’ll run the other way. And what if a priest makes a mistake or succumbs to a private sin? Will the Stokoe-Maymon compatriote use the threat of public humiliation to coerce the priest? If they can manipulate events to tar +Jonah and Fr. Fester, they can manipulate events to tar anyone. Think it can’t happen? It already has.

Most of the e-mails that were on Fester’s computer were between him and his spiritual children. Only a few concerned the present crisis. Now they sit in Stokoe’s files and, if Bp. Mark told the truth, the computers of some other bishops as well. Priests have gone to their death to protect the private confessions and thoughts of their spiritual children. This bishop gave them away to a man who merchandises them for influence and gain.

Let me repeat it. A bishop violated the confidences people gave to another priest. And then he gave the information to an unstable and manipulative man who used it to settle private scores. Doesn’t this cry out for justice? Does anyone grasp how outrageous the violation really is?

Why does the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops sit silent? Where are the real men? This type of corruption will destroy the Church.

This is a heinous ecclesiastical crime. There is no way that Bp. Mark should become the bishop of the south or anywhere else in the OCA. Maybe +Phillip, despite his heavy-handedness, was right about Bp. Mark all along. Maybe he was right about Stokoe too. Word on the street was that Bp. Mark was feeding Stokoe first-hand information in Stokoe’s war with +Phillip. After this week, I believe it.

Here’s what the Synod needs to realize. If the Holy Synod decides to elect Bp. Mark as Bishop of the South, then the people will reject him. He will be locked out of the cathedral and perhaps brought up on legal charges. If they remain obdurant and do it anyway, the money for Syosset will dry up.

And again, the irony. If the Synod does not act and Stokoe keeps his position as Commissar of the Syosset Soviet, his primary leaker gets thrown under the bus. That’s the way Stokoe operates. Check out the excellent post on OCATruth: Disagreement and Blog Wars. You win some, you lose some, isn’t that right, Commissar Stokoe? It’s all in a day’s work as long as you have a couple of bishops to do your bidding.


  1. Seraphimista says

    Bp. Mark stated something about forwarding the emails to the “Holy” Synod, not Stokoe.

    George, if Bp Mark really did say that, he’s lying. You had the screen shot from Fr. Fester’s computer on this site the other day, right here:

    Somebody forwarded e-mails directly from Fr. Joe’s account to Stokoe. Stokoe probably wisely wanted confirmation from the thief that he really did have access to Fester’s account. If Mark had cut and pasted them before, the only way to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt to Stokoe was to forward them from within the account itself.

    • Anonymous says

      If Stokoe wanted confirmation, that means he had foreknowledge of the crime, making him just as guilty.

      • Heracleides says

        Yes indeed. In one of his comments Stokoe states:

        “Editor’s note: These emails were not obtained criminally, and if Fr. Fester says his gmail account was hacked into on Friday, how did I learn of them on Wednesday and [receive] copies on Thursday?”
        Observe that Mark is not denying that the emails were hacked; he is simply disputing the date of their theft. In any event, the stolen emails did not just show up out of the blue – their theft was an orchestrated event with at least a day of planning between Mrs. Stokoe-Brown and Bp. Mark.

        Shame on the shameless Mark Stokoe.
        Anaxios! to the twice-scorned “Bishop” Mark.

        (Source: – #25)

    • Hang on. I have a couple of questions. George, you wrote, “Yup, Maymon leaked the emails. Yesterday after Liturgy, Bp. Mark was confronted by several people who asked him point blank if he stole the emails. He admitted it. He was chagrined at first, then defiant. He said that he had the right as the administrator of the diocesan office to look at Fr. Fester’s emails. Really? Even then, why did he give them to Stokoe?”

      Did someone who was there watch Bishop Mark’s face to see that he was “chagrined at first, then defiant”? Just making sure you heard that first hand. When the other guy does it, we know he’s spinning it into a web.

      Another question I have. Was anyone who is within earshot of this comment board actually at the Metropolitan Council meeting and is there any way to let us know *why* Father Garklavs was given a standing ovation? Is there any way to find out if the entire Metropolitan Council stands behind Mark Stokoe? And if so, why is that okay?

      Just a side note. I don’t know who reads these comments, but here goes: Bishop Mark, if it is true that you did nothing wrong and were completely ethical in accessing Father Fester’s email account and forwarding the emails, then… my comment (number 96) was not directed at you. I have respect for your office.

  2. OrthoDC says

    A certain OCA bishop told a certain parish council over the weekend that Bishop Mark told them he had gotten into Father Fester’s e-mail account. The Synod met after Stokoe revealed all on his website. If Mark had shared this information with the bishops before he shared it with Stokoe, he would not have had to reveal himself to the bishops as Stokoe’s source.

    I’m just a layperson, but I can’t imagine that the Synod didn’t melt down over what Mark admitted to doing. Forget the moral implications — think of the legal exposure he’s put the OCA in. From what I’ve been reading today, there is a serious chance this could be a federal felony. They are all implicated now. Plus, didn’t the OCA have to pay Kondratick a big fat wrongful dismissal settlement? Here we go again.

    This is no way to run a church.

    • Harry Coin says

      To the contrary, most likely, any outside or inside investigator will find that a person with administrative duties (a bishop) decided to explore what he found on the computer used by a staff member (then a priest). They will most likely decide this does not meet the definition of ‘hacking’.

      People looking at this from the outside might even decide that the bishop had a positive _duty_ to assess what was in the church’s control. The could reasonably decide that the bishop’s failing to assess what content might be in the church’s possession on that computer would leave the church open to charges of negligence later on– what if it should be revealed evidence of misdoing lay there, unexamined, “for all that time and the church could have known and did nothing.” Who would believe information on a church computer was there and the church didn’t know? You wouldn’t. No jury would.

      People shouldn’t overlook that.

      Moreover, the investigators will, most likely, determine that the content had to do with church affairs (cough, cough). They will note that the US courts as yet have failed to roll up the sleeves to accommodate a church that is, more or less, ‘federalist’ w/diocese, synods and ‘first among equals / primus / primate’ synod leaders.

      This leaves two choices: Congregational/Protestant, or Vatican-style Hierarchical/Roman Catholic. Given the two, they’ll take a hint from the title ‘bishop’ and put the matter in Vatican land. That means no basis for the law to determine anything about who has what duties to whom within the church.

      They will, I’m supposing, package all this up in well written reports and submit them to prosecuting attorneys who will most likely decide any prosecution is so very unlikely to meet the tests necessary for a conviction (aka, finding of illegality) that no charges will be brought.

      No doubt those who are very loyal to the author of the emails will notice the bishop was not ‘found innocent’. For what it’s worth, I have not been found innocent in the matter of Elvis’s departure nor the recent unpleasantness to do with the Confederate Army. You?

      • In the grand scheme of things, the question will not be whether charges will/can be brought up. It will be whether Bishop Mark can effectively lead a flock and establish trust with clergy and laity. It seems unlikely at this point, especially in the Diocese of the South, which is not in a good state. There are serious trust issues that went from bad to worse yesterday.

        Bishop Nikhon is coming down to St Seraphim’s this week to look into these things..

        • Please clarify. Did the e-mails that +Mark forwarded come from a computer that was owned by the Church, or was the computer the personal property of someone?

          • Please clarify

            This has been discussed, to death, in several previous threads. Please, go there and inform yourself….

            • Wow. Now THIS is a rude response.

              • Why is this a rude response? You come here, in the middle of a discussion, and ask to be informed about something that has been discussed (and solved) many times here before. I find it rather an imposition. If you want to participate in an ongoing discussion it behoves you to get yourself properly informed. That is a simple courtesy to the members of the discussion group…

                • It’s rude because I asked a specific question one time – a question that could be answered in one sentence – and, rather than just ignoring my post, you went out of your way to tell me that you’re not going to answer my question. Had I asked the question 2 or 3 times, and got no response, your comment might have been warranted.

                  Also, just because I don’t post a lot does not mean I am not following this topic here and on other sites. Regarding Monomakhos, I have been reading George’s blog since he started it last October. I have enjoyed his insights on AOI as well.

          • Greg,

            The computer in question has always belonged to Google, Inc.

            Criminal proceedings aside, Google is among the parties with a strong case in civil court.

            Hopefully the other parties who have been wronged have already informed Google about what happened. There is no doubt Google would win their case in civil court. They will want to file to protect future customers, if for some reason federal and state criminal proceedings fail. A civil case may be necessary even if the criminal proceedings are successful. There will be compensation due to anyone left without a home and income as well as with reduced professional opportunities as a result of the intentional harm done through this felony.

            Aside from the strength of Google’s civil case (and no doubt Google has the money and legal team to see it through), these issues have been discussed ad infinitum in recent days. So fatigue is setting in when people ask certain questions, especially since some of the questions have been disingenuous.

            Those who support the criminal acts for political reasons are trying to sow doubt to make action on at least some of the criminal and civil cases less likely. They are hoping these spineless religious folks who are just learning how to talk tough — sure can be ugly when humans are just learning a new skill — won’t have what it takes to follow through with the courts.

        • Harry Coin says

          After rereading some of the many emails and postings… Seriously did it happen that Bishop Mark got so sideways with such a large community that the subdeacons wouldn’t vest him? I mean, you know, that’s pretty grass roots serious to get those folk that ticked off.

          When was that?

          • This was a mis-statement on the part of someone who spoke to an upset subdeacon. There has been no subdeacon uprising of any kind. I have served as an alter server a few times during Lent (and used to almost every Sunday before +Mark arrived) and I can tell you that at the start of service the Deacons ask +Mark if he would like to vest in the church or behind the altar. He typically has wanted to vest behind the altar because he has trouble standing for long periods of time.

            Right now I think some people (subdeacons and alter servers) serve less often because we all know when we are back there that we are serving God and if there is something distracting us from that then we should not be back there at all.

            • Harry Coin says

              That’s one of the effects of anonymity and people using computer screens. If your name isn’t on it, a person feels free to overstate, to add just that extra little twist, adding a shade of meaning that didn’t really happen. Then they sort of ‘feel like they got back at him/her’ and somehow don’t think they just told a whopping fib at the same time since it’s partly true.

              People reading respond to the whole with shock and so on, eventually a consensus comes around: ‘oh, look! I don’t like that guy…’ and the echo chamber of discontent and further wounds starts. Wrongly. All because the little twist is just a few words of wrongness that add a great deal of meaning that is false, on top of a generally correct kernel of a story.

              Who is responsible? The person who allows anonymous postings unedited.

              • You are judging all humans equally and all humans do not react the same way. I am using a different name for a valid reason. It wasn’t a few people who said they don’t “like” Bishop Mark, it was a lot of people who are still saying it and those who knew him years ago have written without emotional overtones the problems they had with him. Let’s change the word “Like” to “are dismayed that he is their bishop.” is that better? But you will discount this comment because you know my first name isn’t Rachel. I read your posts with interest, Harry, and like the way things move forward when you contribute something pithy.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Sorry Harry, your analysis simply does not track with the statutory language, does not comport with the published case law, and does not even make sense in terms of how networks, servers, and electronic storage work. I have read four or five posters trying to say things about employers rights, court cases, and abstention/deference vis a vis the church in an effort to blow this all under the covers. However, I have yet to find a single case interpreting the Stored Communications Act to permit an employer to use a stored password to access an offsite, personal account of any type. Each instance that has been reported has been deemed a violation. Simply put, I am seeing a lot of generalized statements about generalized principles, but an analysis of the specifics seems to point in an entirely different direction.

        If someone who says this is no big deal could point me to a case authorizing the use of stored passwords to access hotmail or gmail type accounts, or a court abstaining in a church related hacking case, then please do. I have cited several in the opposite direction.

        The doctrine of abstention or deference in church governance issues is really not an issue in a case like this. There is a federal statute that has no religious component or test to it. It is applied equally to all situations without regard to whether they occur in a religious settings. Let me give you just two examples where this has occurred. (1) Sex abuse by clergy; (2) use of peyote by Native American religionists. Courts don’t defer from the enforcement of federal statutes simply because a church is involved.

        Now, it is possible a court could say they don’t want to be involved in a wrongful termination suit. That is a little closer to your concerns over getting involved in church governance. But as to either a criminal or a civil action for violation of the SCA, I see no basis for a federal court to decline jurisdiction.

        • Harry Coin says

          I’m sure you’d agree that plainly the discussion was by a priest about church matters and made accessible by him on a computer located at the church. Suppose in the future a case comes against the church and your job is to defend it, and you stand up and say, ‘well, the bishop didn’t touch that computer and though you found all this evidence just by using it as was set up by our staff members (now departed), you couldn’t expect the bishop or his staff to have known.’ —

          That SO loses.

          Mark I tell you what, let’s just see if there is even a single charge brought. Clearly the US civil authority has no interest in any of this inside church baseball stuff, and they’ll do what they do according to the laws. In the end, I believe it highly unlikely any charge will be brought in a criminal court, and I further guess is one is it will be dismissed quickly in a preliminary motion the moment there is financial penalty associated with telling whoppers.

          I also believe that should any matter arise via the civil authority if it is allowed to progress to a decision that will be in favor of the church. I understand you disagree, you should understand my sense here is not based on how I want the case to be resolved but on how things like this have worked out in the past. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what’s happened.

          I know there are plenty who just don’t like the new guy. But let’s look to see what he did: Clearly he exposed she-nan-i-gans in Detroit to the extent the AOA twisted itself out of all diocesan bishops in order to absolve them of legal responsibility to know what’s going on in their diocese. Very Ca No Ni Cal. They booted him. He goes into the OCA where you allege, shock, shock, he looks on a computer in the office that is conditioned to display information and that it does. What’s he supposed to do? Ignore it? Pretend he never saw it? Seriously now.

          • Mark from the DOS says

            Harry –

            I understand that you and a lot of others look at the general maxims which are undeniably true. Courts general abstain from interfering in internal church governance; employers generally have the right to read their employees’ e-mails. It is an easy leap from the general maxims to the conclusions you posit as to likely outcomes.

            I don’t know where the e-mails came from or how they were accessed. I speak only in the hypothetical. If they were retrieved from gmail using stored logins. . . if . .

            Well if that is true, the case law is what it is. A violation of the SCA. Verdicts upheld. Summary judgments denied. Evidence obtained in violation of the SCA excluded. I have not read a single case that comes out good for the employer in these circumstances. And from an equities standpoint, I think any good faith plea is suspect when the e-mails are sent directly to an activist blogger.

            I surely don’t know how this will turn out. None of us do. I simply think it is head in the sand for so many people to be saying this is no big deal, this is clear cut. To the extent it is clear cut, it comes out against whoever accessed those e-mails.

            If someone can direct me to a case that is contrary to my analysis, I will gladly reconsider. (and of course if the facts are other than we suppose, all bets are off). I don’t purport to have done any exhaustive research. I’m not counsel to any of the parties involved; just intrigued by the twists and turns!

            • Philippa says

              If they were retrieved from gmail using stored logins. . . if . .
              Computers store passwords on the hard drive unless settings are changed for that not to happen, even if history is cleared.

            • You say case law; what have you read? Warshak? The law reviews? Doesn’t sound like it.

              • Mark from the DOS says

                OK Madam – are you trying to denigrate my opinion by googling a case? Because if you read Warshak, you would know it is completely inapposite. It dealt with provisions of the SCA that permitted warrantless seizure of e-mails by the government. It incidentally also held that was a 4th amendment violation. It is not on all fours with the allegations here; in fact, it isn’t even on twos.

                The cases I read were fact specific: employers who access former employees cloud based e-mail accounts using stored passwords. If can direct me to any case that finds such action not to be a violation of the SCA, I welcome your correction. If not, then I will assume that you have used your knowledge to search, but have been unable to locate any.

                Van Alstyne is a good case to read, involving an employer who accessed an AOL account of a former employer. Although the case was remanded with instructions, the court affirmed that such a violation will support imposition of punitive damages and attorneys fees, even in the absence of actual damages. And I don’t think any of Van Alstyne’s e-mails were forwarded to internet bloggers for publication . . .

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Well, Harry, since he’s such a good guy, why don’t y’all in the GOA take him? Maybe he could be an auxiliary in your diocese?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Harry, if what he discovered was so injurious, then he should have done one of two things:

            1. Go to the appropriate legal authorities and get them to execute a warrant for the confiscation of the offending information (on the suspicion that they contained criminal evidence), or

            2. Address the Synod to convene an ecclesiastical court and immediately turn over the computer to them.

            Under no circumstances should anybody else (myself included) been allowed to see its contents.

            • Harry Coin says

              George, you might have noticed that somehow we descendants of people from Greece have turned church decision making over to those who deem it wise to get Turkish citizenship. Do you think +Mark would be game? I know it isn’t high on my list of things to do this week. I think I’d really enjoy visiting from time to time (been there once already), but I’m happy to be from the Mississippi valley. You apparently didn’t like the idea so much you went to live with our cousins in the OCA! (Not blaming you…)

              Anyhow, look, I don’t think any serious case can be made as to why documents written by a priest that have made national church impact obtained apparently legally ought not be shared with the Metropolitan Council and synod. That one of them deemed it wise to publish for all to see on the internet, … truth is I’m sorry that manner of discussion could happen from a priest (I’ve seen worse from dubious Greek clergy) but I think people are better off knowing these things as it will lead I think to better decisions going forward.

              If it was a matter of some personal misdoing affecting just the parties involved, turning the matter over to the internal systems first would be the course, before ‘telling it to the church’– in cases of retaining church rank and no corrective action after allowing a generous amount of time.

              But the content of those emails, well, ‘sheeee doggie’ as they say in Texas. Just so wrong on so many levels.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Harry, one of the problems with scheming like the the MC/SSS axis did is that things don’t always turn out like the plotters intended. There’s such a thing in war as “collateral damage.”

                What’s my point? That BM is now collaterally damaged. Do I think he would want to take out Turkish citizenship? No, not in the ordinary course of things. Will he have to now? Probably.

                • Harry Coin says

                  Remember, the thing that gave Mark Stokoe power was that what fraction of the truth he wrote checked out later on when he got started those years ago, and that information was available nowhere else. That and a no small bit of dedicated effort over the long term.

                  If others want to make a similar impact while feeling things are going the wrong direction– get out there and get the stuff that needs light and publish it. Reaction articles can be anonymous if segregated, as can the articles themselves if the overall publishers are listed.

                  Publishing only reaction to some fraction of events doesn’t get much done, especially as the people involved really can’t come together and know one another. (You know ‘Helga’ and ‘Trey’ and ‘Parishioner’ and ‘Muszik’ etc. and etc.)

                  What I sense here is a community that feels as though the teachings of the church relative to living according to the preaching are being systematically ignored in the highest places, while most in parish life are struggling along pretty well.

                  Well, you know, you could do something about that. Take a look at what the Pokrov team has done relative to clergy abuse of power over others sexually. Nobody doubts what they publish because it is very carefully done, even the detractors reference it and give it a grudging respect. They’ve come to understand if they don’t want to appear there, the answer is to change things to avoid the conduct that generates victims. (Well, duh., took ’em long enough…)

                  So, think about that.

                  • Yes, someone needs to write an essay rigorously analyzing Hopko’s puzzling letter from every angle and then allow public commentary.

                    Then someone else needs to call Hopko to schedule an interview. They need to interview him on tape and on the record. And they need to publish the answers they get. Make sure the recording equipment works before you go and have an audio backup running always.

                    Next up DOW synod members, then MC members, then Mark, then Mark, then Ben, then Russian hierarchs. Hopko and some others should respond to lay people. But the Russian Television channel on cable here in the U.S. has some great English language reporting on American and European cultural issues. Maybe someone can get one of their shows or reporters interested in some professional reporting. If so the result could be much more rapid healing and growth for your religion.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Here you’re wrong Harry. The thing that gave Stokoe “power” was not information illicitly attained, but that MS has been a “plugg-in” player in the highest reaches of the OCA since he was a young man. Becauuse of his talents, he was able to gather information on people, which he long ago admitted to.

                    You or I could play the same game but speaking for myself, I choose not to. A lot of what MS puts out is selective. We know for example that he saw the SMPAC report, hence his divulging of the four names on it. We also know for a fact that he didn’t mention cases that made his side look bad.

                    He reminds me very much of Walter Duranty, the Communist fellow-traveling reporter of the New York Times, during his stint in Stalin’s Russia. He was assiduous with reporting accurate details about the wheat harvest or the arrest of “counter-revolutionaries” but was careful about not mentioning the millions of Kulaks who were starving to death or the mass executions of Stalin’s political enemies.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Choosing not to ‘play a game’ is always a good idea. The power came in the revealing of the truth he chose to reveal. If the base facts weren’t with him, nothing would have come of it.

                      Your complaint is the selectivity, the only answer is to shine light on further truth that gives balance. Does it exist?

            • George,

              Your comment above states, in part, if “what (+Mark) discovered was so injurious, then he should have… address(ed) the Synod to convene an ecclesiastical court…”

              Is it possible that this is what +Mark might have intended?

              In your article you note that “Bp. Mark muttered something about forwarding the emails to the Holy Synod…” Wouldn’t turning over this type of information to the HS be the first step? To see if there was really an issue that required the decision of an ecclesiastical court. Perhaps that’s all he did, and some other person turned the e-mails out for public consumption.

              • Heracleides says

                Nope – the record shows that the emails were forwarded by Bp. Mark directly from Fr. Fester’s gmail account to Mrs. Stokoe.

                • Dallas Texas says

                  Let us be precise. The record shows that someone forwarded the e-mails to Stokoe directly from Fr. Joe’s account. The record does not prove who did so, but we all know what the appearances are. Bp. Mark has reportedly claimed that he accessed and forwarded the messages to the Synod, but did he forward them to Stokoe, or did someone else? I don’t know. I am neither accusing nor defending anyone, just clarifying in the same way it would be if this case is ever investigated or goes to court.

                  If a clergyman, any clergyman, accessed and forwarded those messages to Stokoe in this fashion, then he needs to be suspended today. There can be no ministry without trust. Felonies are a hindrance as well.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    “Dallas”, I’d agree with you except that Mark Stokoe is a member of the diocesan council. If all the members of the council were afforded those emails (quite likely) then he’d naturally be included.

                    Anyhow I’m not so sure the narrative plays out that’s presupposed as a lock here, that Bishop Mark upon seeing the content on the screen there in the church office forwarded them for publication to Mark.

                    Still and all, this talk about how the emails got to where they were is really like talking about the quality of the theatrical production during which President Lincoln was shot. It’s of interest and all, but really, what’s in those emails.. Holy Buckets!

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      Mark Stokoe is not a member of the Diocesan Council. He is a member of the Metropolitan Council, whose Statutory purview in no extends to issues of pastoral discipline or any other way one may couch the relevant content of the emails.

                      If he were a member of the Diocesan Council, he would still not have any defensible reason read these emails.

                      To my knowledge no emails sent from Fr. Fester’s account were forwarded to any members of the HS, the DC, the PC, or the MC.

                      But let’s say I grant you this argument — that a member of the MC from another diocese other than those in question (DC, DOS) has Statutory and ethical rights to read these emails — what should happen to that member if he/she openly published these emails on the internet?

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      Sadly, I must sit out the discussion of what is in the emails… but if you read them carefully and you read Helga and Co.’s comments (Holy Buckets indeed!) I’m sure you get the point. There’s not a lot of “there” there.

                    • Harry Coin says


                      You have quite a point there, a Metropolitan Council member publishing emails regarding inner church business other than in private confession. Is the church leadership to be thought of in the same way as ‘open meetings’ are done in towns and states? With ‘closed doors’ permissible only when not taking decisions but just thinking out loud?

                      I think the ethos of the church favors this openness, to the point that confession was a public thing itself back in the day.

                      Certainly prior policies of hiding and secrecy has led to fantastic abuses in the past — it didn’t work out so hot.

                      At the heart here– the only complaint that carries water is those here who charge there exists a certain self serving selectivity in where to shine lights and so make what truth there is evident. The answer to that is to roll up the sleeves and shine light where you feel it’s due. If you do it in a way that reveals what is, you’ll create the balance and gain insight yourselves.

                      George doesn’t like it when I mention it.. but it is not possible to be in the business of shining light while hiding one’s own name. You can’t start a project with a contradiction at its very core. Very, very few will look at any assertions you make, even true ones, carefully. Few will bother to check whether your assertions are true or false.

                    • Huh?

                      Harry, I’m really trying, but I can’t even follow much of what you say. You seem to be concerned with issues that have only indirect bearing on the case at hand, but you assume they are the primary issue. If this is the case, you need to be sure to not ignore the issue others are talking about. You need to provide some kind of a bridge from the topic being discussed to the topic that you believe is more important and that you want to talk about. Then the world at large will be able to follow you. Or to put it another way: If you really do care about what you are saying, I (and I suspect others) need you to put a little more effort into communicating clearly.

                      Having said that, you seem to have at best a vague notion of what your religion is up against. If this is not a game to you, think seriously about the effect and potential benefit of every word you say. Your religion can deal with a joke here or there, but it cannot afford more chaos for the sake of entertainment or ego. That’s my honest assessment anyway.

                    • Harry,

                      The reason to withhold your name is clear.

                      Either you don’t understand the nature of this beast or you are being disingenuous.

                      Imagine if a Navy SEAL who set foot on bin Laden’s front lawn recently had his name revealed publicly. Would this clarify the morality of his presence there or the morality of his team’s actions? Can’t see how it could, can you?

                      On the other hand, such a person would rightfully live in fear for the rest of his life of being hunted down, of having his immediate and extended family hunted down and brutally murdered.

                      The Lavender Mafia is relentless. The movement has no ethical values other than ultimate victory for the cause. They do not operate according to an agreed set of ethical rules.They are committed to vengeance against any who stand in their way. While we might not be talking life and death here, because our legal system is strong enough to provide some protections against that; we are talking jobs, livelihoods, homes. Whatever can be done to harm you will be done eventually.

                      This is not an irrational fear. I’ve seen it happen to people time and time again. Um is not my real name, and this is the reason.

                      I’m not ashamed of what I say, but I fear for my own well being and for that of my family. Not because I have something to hide, but because there is an irrational force working toward an objective. This irrational force will not take no for an answer … and there is a good chance I’ll be perceived as standing in the way.

                      I don’t hate gays and lesbians that I encounter in my life. I have as much of a friendship with them as I am able, and I think these friendships are real even if I have some disagreements with them. But the disagreements are also real, and sometimes they go beyond high minded theoretical differences of opinion. For example. I grieve when a lesbian friend talks about an overwhelming drive to have children with her female lover. I want to beg her to not bring a child into the world just to satisfy that drive. I want to tell her that children have a right (all else being equal) to be raised by both of their biological parents. That they will be healthier in every conceivable way we can measure health (the science is clear on this point), if they are raised by both of their biological parents. It is a justice issue, and I have a responsibility to speak. But even in this situation, I have to weigh this responsibility against the potential harm done to myself when the overwhelming drive my friend just described turns on me to destroy me and my family in pursuit of its irrational objective. Only when I know that I have myself and my family in a position of safety, can I reach out to speak on behalf of this woman’s future children. I don’t live in fear. I just know the consequences of exposing myself to the kind of vengeance that is likely.

                      I used to be naive, but I have seen too much.

                    • Harry Coin says


                      Ah, clergy. One hears so many stories about them in all the services and the writings of the church, the profiles in courage, standing firmly in the service of their high calling.

                      Might be a good idea to get together, the antidote for swinging alone. Only when lots of clergy signed a very mild statement did the GOA, even in Turkey, deem it wise to make a change they otherwise never, ever would have made even if it cost dozens of parishes.

                      Maybe I should take a writing class. Others have mentioned they don’t follow the ideas I’m trying to get across. Certainly what’s the point of writing about an idea if you can’t get it into the reader’s head? Ah well, you can tell certainly I don’t write for a living. No doubt you and probably everyone else could have figured out a long time ago.

                      Math, seeing subtle patterns in big chaotic pictures, that I’m better at.

      • William Harrington says

        Except that the e-mails were not “on” the computer, but rather information on the computer was used to access e-mails stored on another computer that was not owned by, or in the possession of, the OCA. The case aint so simple as you make it. The law has not been clearly defined. Even I, a mere secondary teacher with no legal education, can figure out that there is definite potential for Bishop Mark and Stokoe to find themselves on the wrong side of rapidly developing legal precedent. Seems to me they may have outsmarted themselves using the very arguments you advance but not realizing that technology has already made those arguments obsolete.

        • Harry Coin says

          Mr. Harrington, I understand the distinction about where the data was stored. The point of interest there is that, even if all these allegations are true (dubious at best), the computer was used in the condition it was found, that is: set up to make use of the information in the routine course of every day work (no matter that the data was stored offsite). No ‘hacking’. The computer was set up to provide that information at work at will to anyone able to type. No passwords were required being they were all pre-stored in the system, if the most recent narrative is to be believed.

          Seriously, suppose there was evidence of serious misdoing available through that computer and the church was sued. To accept the argument offered by these folks would mean that the church staff members could stand up and say, ‘well, your honor, the data really was stored off at XYZ co mail service and even though it was used every day at work, I just set up my computer at work to access that all offsite. All the bad stuff I made sure was stored off site, and even though anyone at work could access it with the touch of a button without knowing any passwords being they were pre-stored, so you can’t really use it against the church”.

          No, I doubt a judge would accept that. I’m sure a jury wouldn’t. I think there is indeed an obligation to know what’s been going on using office equipment. If bishop means ‘overseer’ ‘epi-skopos’, well, straight ahead and down the middle there.

          Now, if someone had to thieve or connive or hack to gain access, if the account wasn’t used to discuss church business, it would be different. But clearly that’s not what happened here (even if the allegations as to the source of the emails is true– dubious).

      • Harry,

        You seem determined to site that these emails were on a parish computer.

        They were not.

        They were out on the gmail server, NOT ON THE COMPUTER!!!!!!! (Sorry for shouting, but you consistently ignore this key fact.)

        By your logic, if I ever access my personal account while at work, if the cookie captures my password, then my company, can FOREVER, whether I still work there or not, go snooping around in my emails, for any reason or none.

        They might justify this by saying I might be emailing about them, about intellectual property, whatever.

        But I have one more question for you Harry.

        Even if, for the sake of argument, I stipulate that all your legal arguments hold water, how in the world do you justify these emails being sent to Mark Stokoe to publish on his website???

        • Harry Coin says

          I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. Yes, I understand your belief that the emails were stored offsite. And let’s go work with that assuming it’s 100% the way things happened. The point being the office computer used to access them was set up to retrieve and display them at the office, all at the touch of a button without requiring passwords, and the content was plainly to do with church business.

          If doing as the bishop did wasn’t allowed by the law, I as a subordinate could go do all manner of things my employer could be sued for and claim my employer couldn’t be held responsible. In fact I could be pressured to do all manner of illegal things while my employer could claim they had no knowledge. Why? As I conducted my company affairs via a personal email system partly housed elsewhere, it just so happened to use company computers as a conduit to make it happen. Plainly, this fails the smell test and is plainly illegal. There is a duty of an organization to have access to that for which they could be held legally accountable as ‘ought to have known’. If the facts are as you assert them, this is one of those cases.

          Let’s take a dispassionate look at a similar case. Let’s suppose you were an officer in the army, and you used your army computer at work to access an offsite email system, and conducted army business and signed your name ‘Kernel Trey Anonymous’. Do you really think any judge or jury will conclude you weren’t acting for your hierarchy and absolve your leadership of any responsibility– given all they had to do to review your activity is push a button on the computer at work without knowing any passwords? All set up and ready to go, visible and usable by clerks, staff, whoever?

          At that point, you are conducting business professionally and I think the employer is entitled to know. Why? Because you have the authority to make obligations or representations on behalf of your employer when you sign your name using your title and position with your employer. You expose them to risks using your title, the people giving you that title can’t say ‘Why, your honor, we saw the computer there working these many years, but once never looked at its email system, shazaam, did he write emails there? Why never did I get or send one, and don’t know anyone who did. Gosh, who’d a thunk it? Used gmail to conduct church business. Amazing,’

          Please now.

          So, for these and other reasons, supposing the narrative as to how these emails became known is true, there will be no charges because there is unlikely to be any finding of illegal conduct, and the staff of the civil authority doesn’t go around choosing from all the cases before it those it doesn’t think it has a chance of proving. Again, had there been conniving or hacking or use of the information to buy stuff using employee money and so forth, that would matter. That didn’t happen in if these facts are the case.

          Of course folk can differ honestly and I think we’ll just wait to see whether those who are given to bring charges decide to do that. Right now I’m thinking the odds are most remote.

          • Martin Pendergrass says


            You obviously care more about civil law then Our Lord’s commandments. Archbishop Job, of blessed memory, wrote an excellent letter during the “times of trouble” addressing people like you who uphold the law of the land more so than Jesus Christ and his teaching. Ill send you a copy as soon as I find it.

            Further, had Bishop Mark forwarded the emails to the Synod or a member of the Synod and brought it to a discussion at their meeting that would be one thing. But to take it to Mark Stokoe?

            If we allow for this situation which you put forth:

            “People looking at this from the outside might even decide that the bishop had a positive _duty_ to assess what was in the church’s control. The could reasonably decide that the bishop’s failing to assess what content might be in the church’s possession on that computer would leave the church open to charges of negligence later on– what if it should be revealed evidence of misdoing lay there, unexamined, “for all that time and the church could have known and did nothing.”

            Fine, maybe you are correct that the bishop “had a positive duty to assess what was in the church’s control”, but is sending that ‘evidence’ to Stokoe the right thing to do? Why not first to the Metropolitan, giving him a chance to act. Why not to the chancellor? Why not to the Synod members? Why not to the Legal Committee or the OCA’s Legal Counsel?

            Oh, I know why, because Mark and +Mark are buddies carrying on a relationship that developed in their failed attempts to bring down another Metropolitan.

            • Harry Coin says

              I was discussing the point to do with ‘illegal’ and how I think it unlikely those charged with managing that are likely to disagree with the conclusions posted as ‘for sure’ here. We’ll have to wait and see who is correct, but with each passing day that nothing happens, I think the many anonymous voices calling for criminal charges are going to fade back into the woodwork without manning up.

              Now, there is the matter of giving these communications to Mark Stokoe. Again I don’t for a minute suppose just because it was posted here (anonymously) that it’s true. But for the sake of argument let’s suppose it is. I think it’s very likely it was forwarded to the entire metropolitan council as well as synod one way or another. I know many here don’t like Mark Stokoe personally or his activity and so forth. But the fact remains he’s on the Metropolitan council, and if Rod Dreher can get a copy of a super-double-extra secret report without being anything more than a well meaning parishioner .. well… ah….

              .. the idea that those on the Metropolitan Council can’t get a copy of such a set of productions by a priest that have put much of the church into a turmoil. Seriously, right?

              • Jesse Cone says


                I agree with you about the document control issue with the OCA. It is a very real problem, the SMPAC whitepaper being case in point.

                I am curious however, to hear what you say to those around here who have ever emailed Fr. Fester sensitive pastoral communications. Must they not assume that MS has access to that communication? Judging by MS’s ruthless internet thuggery must they not also assume that if it ever became expeditious to do so, that he would post it/ release it? What would you say to them?

                • Harry Coin says

                  Jesse, I think that if a person whose only connection to the church was like mine, just a family person who goes on Sunday, not elected to serve on decision making bodies, not a deacon or higher, not expecting to be called ‘Father’ except by my own kids, if someone published a letter I wrote to a priest without my consent that would be very destructive.

                  The moment a person accepts to make decisions on behalf of others in the church, or direct how donations are spent or collected, that person’s life becomes a bit more subject to scrutiny. That’s just how it has to be.

                  To me, the decision turns upon the content and how the letter is signed. If I sign the letter using my official title, that puts it in the category of reviewable by church leadership. If I don’t sign like that but I’m discussing my church job, it might be as well. If I’m asking for spiritual advice or help with family and so forth — any church person who releases that to third parties without my consent, on purpose, well if I was in charge I’d suspend them immediately and decide where to go from there depending on the extent of the damage.

                  • My e-mail to father Joe was released. I am nobody. I have no leadership roles, I am just a parishioner, not a council member, just a nobody who decided to be a editor and web admin of a site for a couple friends.

                    Who am I to have my name plastered on Mark Stokoe’s site?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      I’m sorry I didn’t read more carefully. I can see only a few paths by which a letter meant to be private, electronic or otherwise, written by a regular Joe without church leadership role to his priest could rightly be published openly without prior consent. Perhaps, perhaps in a way that does not include enough information to be connected to the author and without the author’s name. Or if the letter itself suggested the notion.

                      I suppose there are reasonable exceptions to every rule but I’d be shocked to see a letter I sent my priest on the internet if I had no church office or title.

                      That said, websites are public things unless they are for subscribers only. Anybody associated with a website should expect sooner or later to have their name associated with it. That said, the company hosting a website or the person doing the technology for a website is no more responsible for the content than the postman is for the letters he brings.

                      Anyhow, look, welcome to the public square. I know its the first time for you folks who got roped into OCATruth, and you thought you were doing the right thing. History is funny sometimes and who knows how all this will play out. People who thought themselves correct in all details and fully justified turned out later to have been duped and badly.

                      Others who didn’t know what they were doing and couldn’t spell six words in a row correctly 15 years later turn out to have had it right all along.

                      Hold your head up, own your stuff, don’t carry what isn’t on your account, apologize carefully and only if due. Then, shake it off, learn from it and move on. There is no need to quit. You might want a new domain name and do-over. Broaden your vision, if someone wants you to carry a spear for them and post things without saying who they are, that’s fine only if you check what’s said for yourself and satisfy yourself it’s true.

                      Illegitimi non carborundum!

                      The more sources of carefully thought through things Orthodox people write, the better off we’ll all be.

          • A Remnant says


            Constructing that many straw-men arguments, is truly a feat of fictional literature. BUt would you please stop, there will be no bedding left for the animals.

        • Eleni Palmos says

          Thank you!

      • jacksson says

        The lawyers can argue all day over the rules regarding private emails – and they probably will. But, the real problem from a lay perspective is the person who looked at them and then sent them around to his buddies. That is just plain an integrity problem. If the man is a bishop, then I am glad he is not mine and if he was, I would find another one via a physical move or a change in my church, i.e. OCA to Greek or such.

    • The quid pro quo continues. Metropolitan Jonah seized Fr. Alexander’s emails because he was trying to undermine him. Bishop Mark seized Fr. Fester’s email because he was trying to undermine him. Is there a difference in hierarchs trying to rein in ardent detractors?

      • Mark from the DOS says

        If Fr. Alexander’s emails resided on a Syosset hard drive or OCA provided e-mail server, they are OCA property and subject to review by the OCA. If Fr. Alexander’s emails were obtained from a personal e-mail account maintained on a third party server (gmail, hotmail, yahoomail) without his authorization, then it is exactly the same.

        The use of the the address would tend to indicate a OCA owned or provided e-mail service. However, it is possible the addresses are simply forwarders to private gmail or hotmail accounts. If so, the same concerns exist.

        Without knowing the nature of the e-mail addresses, it is impossible to answer whether there is a difference or not.

        If you don’t know why there is an issue, read the Stored Communications Act and the cases addressing employer’s unauthorized access to gmail/hotmail type accounts.

        • Only problem with your scenario is 1) +MJ is not the OCA and 2) Metropolitan Jonah had been put on a Leave of Absence (essentially suspended) for disobeying the Holy Synod the highest authority in the Church and was not the acting Primate. He had no business being in Syosset at all never mind in a former officer’s office. +MJ had no legal, moral or ethical right to go through Fr Garklavs emails. +Mel and + Nathaniel did. The Holy Synod has been more than fair with +MJ, benevolent even, I pray that he learns from his past mistakes. Frankly, I think this website and OCAN and OCAT are out of control. Making wild and yet to be proven accusations against bishops and MC members. I am not defending MS nor am I going to take part in new wave of McCarthyism. IF MS is what you claim it is between him his priest and God. You are not to be involved. Who are we to judge another man’s servant? If sinners are not allowed to serve in the Church we would have no laity, no priests, and no bishops. Lets start to calm down and start looking at our own actions. The Holy Synod is made up of Godly men and they have dealt with this crisis in a spiritually mature and peaceful manner.

          • Mark from the DOS says


            There is no problem with my scenario. The OCA is a corporate entity and acts by and through its officers and hierarchs. You are disingenuous when you state he was suspended, as that has a clear meaning, and you know he was not suspended. I would dare guess that not a piece of paperwork was amended, altered or filed during his leave, that indicates that Metropolitan Jonah was not the primate of the OCA throughout his leave. I believe he continued to be commemorated in all liturgies. I also know the OCA website never named Nathanial as acting primate. Look carefully at the words chosen, because that is the game you are playing. In addition, I doubt seriously the OCA statute defines the effect of a leave of absence on the status of the primate. And that would control from a legal standpoint his rights and duties.

            • Sorry Mark but I have never been disingenuous in my life and I am not going to start now. If your uncomfortable with what I said that is fine but it is accurate. Was he told that he was on a leave of absence for no less than 60 days? Yes he was. To quote the Synod Minutes posted on
              3. The Holy Synod appointed Archbishop NATHANIEL as Administrator of the OCA for the length of His Beatitude’s leave.
              4. The Holy Synod appointed Bishop MELCHISEDEK as interim Chancellor.

              We don’t have administrators for the National Church unless the Metropolitan cannot act.

              No the Holy Synod acted within its rights and duties according to the Holy Canons and the Statute so no there is no instance in this scenario where +MJ can argue that he had either in this case as he was placed on a leave of absence to start immediately. We all know what happened after wards it been well documented which is why the Holy Synod once again acted in its capacity to correct the errant behaviors on +MJ.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Thank you George; you get a heartfelt amen from me.

          • Michael Bauman says

            George, the Holy Scripture plainly says that we are to follow the course you recommend as long as the sinners (homosexuals) leave us alone. Once they begin to force the acceptance of their sin on me–all bets are off. They have to be confronted and if they do not repent, they must be treated as no longer members of the Church. That goes for all who persist in sin and attempting to get others to either sin or to acquiese in their sin.

            • Michael,

              Believe me I feel your pain and concern I have watched the Anglicans tear themselves apart. Yet I have seen no evidence of that happening in the Orthodox Church in America. Who has tried to force acceptance of homosexuality on you or the OCA? We do not throw people out for being sinners. If we used that litmus test neither you, nor i, nor +MJ would be in the ark of salvation.

              • Michael Bauman says

                If Mr. Stokoe is living in a homosexual partnership:

                1. He is not to be trusted with any leadership role in the Church;
                2. As long as he has a leadership role in the Church, he is defacto asking me and others to approve of his un-Christian way of life as well as forcing the assumptions on which it is based into the life of the Church.
                3. Un-repentant sinners who publically flaunt their sin have removed themselves from the Church. They are not to receive communion as long as they remain obstinate, plus a whole host of other canoncial remedies and disciplines which can be imposed for their entire life, even if they subsequently repent. Are they ‘in the Church’ well I guess, but are they really if they are obstinately unrepentant and wish their sin to no longer be called sin? Hardly.

                Even if he was married outside the Church as a hetro-sexual he could be subject to a lifetime bar from the cup unless he terminated the marrige (sign of repentance). Today when any discipline is applied for such acts, it is usually substantially less (depending upon jurisdiction, bishop, and circumstance).

                You are correct about one thing, there are many sins I have committed that, if I were to refuse repentance and demand acceptance of them as normative within the Church, would mean I should not be in the Church. I don’t have a lot of virtue, but I would never dream of doing such a thing.

                And, please, don’t patronize me by pretending to ‘feel my pain’.

                • Michael, I’m curious: what if MS and his partner are both celibate, impeccably chaste, in complete compliance with the Church’s teaching on sexual propriety? Surely this possibility has crossed your mind?

                  They share a house — so what? Whoever (does anyone know who?) wrote the late Mrs. Stokoe’s death announcement said that Steve Brown was one of three sons-in-law. Quite possibly, that was meant in a purely tongue in cheek way, in an affectionate manner, figuratively, not literally — or even, it may well be, with a somewhat snide and cutting intention, possibly. Just as so many of you are, on the subject, and on an almost non-stop basis.

                  I’ve been listening in on this often quite hysterical chatter from you very, very silly and uncharitable people for about a week now, with growing amusement/disgust/pity. Why are many of you so hell-bent on pruriently assuming something about MS that I take it not one of you has any evidence for whatsoever?

                  And if they are chaste, then most of you are little better than the nauseating, vicious-minded and repulsive bigots that infest so many churches in this increasingly pathetic “Christian” country.

                  • Mike, if somebody said publicly and with supposed “evidence” that you were a homosexual and that your dead mother’s obituary “proves” it would you feel compelled to respond? Especially if that statement was believed by more and more people. If it were some kind of confusion from the why the obit was written wouldn’t you want to clear that up?

                    There mere fact that he is not denying it is not necessarily “proof positive” but its confusing to say the least if what’s been said is not true.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      If I didn’t have a responsibility owing to the nature of having high position of decision making over others, no. But in this case, there is an affirmative responsibility to avoid projecting the appearance of impropriety in these church jobs, because people watch to see if its all talk and money or walking the walk in high places happens. There is no doubt of this requirement about leaders projecting propriety all up and down the canons of the church and the Gospel. For those in leadership, not just to avoid wrongdoing, but to avoid giving the appearance of it, to avoid generating scandal.

                      Now, a one-of obituary creates such an impression. Could be entirely innocent, even a typo, maybe someone who helped extensively during illness, lots of possible things. However it caused some OCATruth types to go looking further, and they indeed found, without trying hard or paying any money, proof via federal forms and so forth that these two men share an address. I checked them myself just to see. It’s true these records exist. Does it prove anything? No. But it is certainly an appearance of impropriety all can see and it does call for a clarification.

                      However, I do not think that clarification is owed by the person in question. Why? Because those who support him don’t need it, and those who don’t won’t accept it as it would seem self-serving even if it’s true. The best and highest way these get put to bed is if the organization settles the matter. Either a public statement by an OCA official associated with the Metropolitan Council putting the matter to rest after seeing what’s what, or a quiet separation from the institution if there is reason and there isn’t going to be a correction.

                    • “Mark Stokoe, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Gay Community?” Something like that, you mean, Harry? Under a 1000-watt interrogation light with a good cop and a bad one, maybe.

                      Messrs. Stokoe & Brown are no doubt repentant sinners, just like all of you are or ought to be. One very weighty reason to give them the benefit of the doubt stares any fair, charitable and non-prurient person in the face: the fact that their priest admits them to the Eucharist. The Church doesn’t teach that two men can’t 1) live together and share many aspects of day-to-day life and 2) be members in good standing of Christ’s Church. She teaches that they cannot be unchaste and unrepentant and still approach the Chalice.

                      (I’m just speculating, admittedly. I don’t know the two at issue. But if y’all can play the Devil’s advocate ad nauseam via your speculations, I can speculate differently. . .) It’s very possible they have a strong emotional and affective bond, like many same-sex partnerships —which decidedly does not imply on its face an ongoing physical relationship contrary to Orthodox teaching. They may enjoy a deep friendship of love, loyalty, trust in and comfort with each other. This is actually common in such cases, apparently — and well known by those of us with any experience of the facts of real life. Mark didn’t have a brother growing up, it seems. Maybe God has given him something better.

                      But you uberholy and uberrighteous ones are uberzealous, too, about the purity of your Church. Given this, I’m a bit puzzled by your lack of confidence in the Church’s traditional theology of the Mysteries. If they are approaching the Chalice unworthily, why not content yourself with the hope that God will punish them with serious illness or death? Be not faithless, but believe. . .

                      Many of you people are twisted and cruel and not very far in spirit at all from Rev. Phelps.

                    • Given this, I’m a bit puzzled by your lack of confidence in the Church’s traditional theology of the Mysteries. If they are approaching the Chalice unworthily, why not content yourself with the hope that God will punish them will serious illness or death? Be not faithless, but believe. . .

                      Sorry, but I find this remark revolting. First, God is not our personal hitman. If they were to partake unworthily once or a thousand times, it’s God’s prerogative to determine what that would do.

                      Second, love does not allow us to say, “They may be sinning, but it’s okay for the church administration to not do anything about it, because God will be their judge.” If that were the case, there is no point to having canons or administration, or spiritual fatherhood, or anything like that. There would be no need for the bishop to charge his priests to protect the Lamb until the second coming, as he does at their ordinations. It’s the responsibility of their priest, their bishop, and the Synod to defend the faith and say, “Sexually-active homosexuals cannot come to the chalice,” because they are supposed to do all they can to avoid things coming to the point where someone partakes unworthily. The fact that partaking unworthily brings spiritual harm does not absolve anyone from their responsibility towards the Lord and towards our brothers.

                      If you were loading groceries into your car and a man came up to you saying, “I haven’t eaten in days, and I am so weak from hunger, I fear I will die. Will you please help me get something to eat?” would you be right to say, “You’re not trusting God! Matthew 6:26, read it!” Of course not. God is providing for him through you.

                      Likewise, rebuking Stokoe and Brown means giving them opportunities to turn from their sinful lifestyle and repent. They would not be condemned if no one ever told them they were sinning. But now that they hear the Gospel being preached, they will know.

                  • It would be less of a focal point if he — MS– had not destroyed so many lives with his “position of power” . . . .

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            George, “more than fair”?!? How about if your bosses got together and asked you to check yourself into an asylum?

            • If I showed an inability to work with others, an inability to follow through, and other erratic behavior I would think that my bosses truly loved me and wanted me to succeed. So yes they have been more than fair.

              • Their problem was with him following through. Not with his lack of follow through.

                The Lesser Synod was not formed to help make sure Jonah follows through on his initiatives. It’s the exact opposite.

                They want to shut him down.

                Don’t be an enabler. If you’ve seen what happened in the Anglican religion, then you have even less of an excuse.

          • Eleni Palmos says

            Why do people refer to the “Holy” Synod as if it is chaired by Saint Peter Himself? Can’t you understand that they are cronies and out to do the person in that threatens the status quo? I counter that the Synod is not made up of “godly men.” Prove that to me before making the assertion.

            They had no right to put anyone on a Leave of Absence, least of all H.B. Metropolitan JONAH. You need a reason and proof to do that.

      • Jesse Cone says

        Interestingly enough, while it is a popularly held belief among those in the Syosset circle that +Jonah is the instigator and source for OCAT (he is not) it might also be noted he has never emailed me any of the Garklavs emails, nor has he told me anything about them. But, as dozens in the Syosset circle know, whatever is in the emails is NOT good for Fr. Alexander. This is attested to the average layman by (1) Skordinski’s leaked email and (2) the fact the Synod accepted his resignation.

        But more to the point, does HB seizing his employees company emails put in question his ability to be a trustworthy pastor? Was anyone worried about seeing their personal struggles/ information/requests for a personal spiritual blessing appear on OCAT or OCAN?

  3. Are you saying that what you report vis-a-vis Bp. Mark’s alleged confession has documentation, or are you reporting hearsay, George? I refer you to the post in your other thread here:

    In a related question, what I have seen offered in proof of Mark Stokoe’s alleged homosexual lifestyle may fall short of even hearsay, i.e., does anyone have a copy of the obituary that has been cited and proof of residency for Mark Stokoe and Steve Brown that goes back to the time of Mark’s mother’s death? If they do, here’s what has been suggested needs to be done:

    And, I specifically refer to where Fr. Herbel says: “If anyone has such documentation, then get it to Bishop Matthias.”

    My suggestion is for those with these concerns to have the integrity and patience to accumulate the needed documentation and solid first-person witnesses and get these submitted to the appropriate authorities for action. Only if those authorities fail to act need the documentation, if it exists, be publicized. Anything that falls short of this only undercuts your credibility. It also undercuts the possibility of real healing where it may be needed.

    Similarly, istm the question of Faith Sordinski’s (sp?) communicative status in the Church needs to be addressed with her bishop. Only if what has been alleged at this site is conscientiously pursued in the right places by those who really know something and can bring convincing evidence of it will it result in the desired results, such as the removal of inappropriate and/or unqualified MC members.

    It would be ideal if this could be done before the upcoming AAC meeting.

    If this cannot be accomplished, I don’t really understand how you can claim with any confidence that Bp. Mark cannot be elected and indeed function as Bishop of the South (even if it ends up being a much smaller diocese as a result!).

    • Dallas Texas says

      The documentation about Stokoe and his significant other–the obituary, political contribution records, etc–have all been linked to and posted on OCA Truth, the Yahoo Orthodox forum, and elsewhere. I have a hard time believing that Bp Matthias is unaware of what is going on in his Dayton parish with his MC representatives.

      • All seems a little flimsy. Let me see if I can get this straight 2 people of the same sex sharing a house together…shocking. I guess my two aunts are incestuous lesbians then. Next. Someone close to my mother referred to as a relation in obituary even though they are not. I don’t know about you but I have plenty of Uncles that are not related to us in any fashion other then dear and close friends. I also have men that I refer to and introduce as my brothers because I can trust them with my life. Them being referred to as my brothers should not open up questions about whether or not my parents were faithful to one another. It is a common practice to add people to your family in these rather unofficial and nonsexual manner. Is it that strange that two roommates have the same political philosophy not really. So unless I can see real evidence. I won’t buy it. It is just a convenient ploy to sully the name of a prominent and well liked leader in the Church.

        • Mark from the DOS says

          And they give jointly to charity. Sure that’s common to combine your money with someone else of the same sex who you happen to live with and send it in as a joint contribution, because most all same sex, platonic roommates pool their financial resources. Let’s put it this way, if they were male and female those acts (cohabitation, holding out as married, joint finances) would be the very elements used to establish a common law marriage. So while it may seem flimsy, it also seems to be the same factors civil courts look to in male/female relationships to determine if there is a marriage.

          I am not a big fan of the Glen Beck tactic of “if it isn’t true, why doesn’t he just come out and deny it” but I would be quite willing to accept a denial over the “flimsy” facts. But if all you give me are the facts, the conclusion I draw is that they consider themselves life partners/married.

          When I was younger I often rented rooms in my house to friends who had just moved to town or were between permanent situations. I can say without fail, we never pooled financial resources, made joint contributions or referred to ourselves in a manner that would suggest a marriage relationship.

    • tiresias says

      Our sister Karen offers good advice regarding appropriate action. It really is better to pursue these matters privately and through proper channels. Nevertheless, the obituary is of public record and may be found on line by a Google search through the Seattle Times. It has been published a number of times in various discussion groups and blogs wrestling with the current debacle. The information it conveys has not been disputed or explained as far as I know. It would be wonderful if it had been or will be:

      Elizabeth Helen Hatton STOKOE After a long and full life, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother & great-grandmother, sister, aunt and friend reached the summit of her last mountain on May 13th at age 88. Born in Seattle in 1922, a 1940 graduate of Queen Anne High School, Elizabeth attended the University of Washington. In 1945 she married her husband of 64 years, Col. Orlo Stokoe (USMC-Ret.) She raised 3 children while helping hundreds more as an Instructional Assistant at Hamilton & South Shore Middle Schools. A life-long member Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church, she spent 25 years after her retirement serving in the Food Bank. But she spent her happiest hours surrounded by family and friends, climbing mountains, skiing, boating, golfing, at the symphony and opera, and playing Bridge. She saw the world, but loved Warm Beach most of all. She is survived by her husband Orlo; children Kitty, Suzy & Mark; sons-in-law, Eric Nelson, Bill Phillips and Steve Brown; grandchildren Kathryn Phillips, Megan Nelson and Anna (Nik) Olson; and new great-granddaughter, Olivia Olson; her beloved siblings Elaine (Richard) Kirsten, Dorothy Rupert & Jim (Marcella) Hatton, many nieces and nephews together with their families; and friends, old and new. A memorial will be held at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church on Wednesday, May 19th, at 2:00 PM. followed by internment at Evergreen Washelli. Rememberences, in lieu of flowers, may be made in care of the PRLC Food Bank, 7500 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle WA 98133.
      Published in The Seattle Times from May 16 to May 17, 2010


      • Harry Coin says

        Being that Mark Stokoe is on the Metropolitan Council of the OCA, a position of high decision making authority, I do believe the church has an obligation to address the concern in a public way that was brought forward in the public obituary, if only to prevent an appearance of impropriety from generating scandal and loss.

        If the present and ongoing reality is entirely proper I’m sure the church could address it in a public way that balances the sensitivities involved.

        If the present and ongoing reality carries generates the appearance of impropriety, and it isn’t going to change, then a quiet departure from the MC in due course would remove the occasion for scandal.

  4. Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


    Christ is Risen!

    If you love decency, the Diocese of the South, and Abp Dmitri so much, why don’t you seem to give a darn that Abp. Dmitri’s Pastor to Penitent correspondence was leaked to OCATruth and they published it?

    Why is Fr. Fester’s gmail account more sacred than the personal files of the diocese of the South? Why is email more sacred than correspondence on paper?

    • John Panos says

      Fr. Yousuf,

      What is the point? A wrong is a wrong – whether George airs something about it or not.

      Truth is, a felony was committed and Mr. Stokoe is liable for it.

      • The point that OCATruth fans conveniently ignore is the blatant hypocrisy in the accusations leveled at OCANews. The ends do not justify the means.

        • Michael Livosky says

          HUH?????? Accusations????? The emails CLEARLY show that they were sent from Fr Fester to Mark Stokoe. And I hardly doubt that Fr Joe would send anything to Mark Stokoe. Come on Karen, use just a little common sense here. There is no means to justify…..the emails were sent from the DOS cathedral and Fr Joe was sitting in a chair in DC. This discussion is not about +Dmitri. It’s about Mark and if he sent the emails after breaking into Fr Joe’s “personal” email account. Nor is THIS discussion about OCATruth and whether they’re blatantly hypocritical. Stay on the discussion please.

        • A Remnant says

          Karen says:
          May 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

          The point that OCATruth fans conveniently ignore is the blatant hypocrisy in the accusations leveled at OCANews. The ends do not justify the means.

          Nice try but Nope!

          The email from MS were shared with the world by some one on the recipient list.

          The emails from Fester’s account were “found” by a Bishop not included in the recipient list, and shared with the world!

          I do hope you can distinguish the difference in these two situations,

          • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

            Christ is Risen!

            Would the following work? Why or why not?

            (and do please follow the link at the end).

            “That is exactly what I am saying. George M, John Panos, Michael Livosky, & A Remnant refuse to make the distinction between harming someone and defending someone.

            Let’s say that Maymon made some mistakes. I don’t think he did, but for the sake of argument let’s say he did. Even if he made mistakes, it still does not change the fact that Fester/Southern Comfort wanted to blacken and remove +Mark Maymon, and the leakers were acting to fight him. Maymon’s wrong in other words, would not cancel out Fester’s wrong. They are two different things and Fester needs to be held accountable for his wrong.

            George M, John Panos, Michael Livosky, & A Remnant don’t want to deal with this distinction. To avoid dealing with it they get into increasingly arcane discussions about the emails because they want to shift the focus there instead of on the distinction. They want us to believe that Maymon is as wrong as Fester.

            It’s a failure of vision on their part. They are not comprehending the facts correctly. That’s why they need to be reminded of the distinction”.


            • Michael Livosky says

              Father, really????

              “It’s a failure of vision on their part. They are not comprehending the facts correctly. That’s why they need to be reminded of the distinction” Here is what I comprehend….the FACTS are, emails were taken, stolen, hacked, illegally-gotten from Fr Fester’s personal email account. The FACT is….if Fr Fester didn’t send the emails to Mark Stokoe (and I believe he didn’t)…then they were taken, stolen, illegally-gotten. Were they taken by the bishop? Who knows….sounds like they were.

              “George M, John Panos, Michael Livosky, & A Remnant don’t want to deal with this distinction. To avoid dealing with it they get into increasingly arcane discussions about the emails because they want to shift the focus there instead of on the distinction. They want us to believe that Maymon is as wrong as Fester.” The distinction between this and how I feel? Please read the last sentence….IF Fr Fester WAS TRYING to get Mark removed, he didn’t succeed as opposed to Mark, who purposely forwarded personal emails from Fr Fester’s personal account, while he was in DC. At the end of the day, Mark “stole” personal and private emails. What did Fr Joe do….at worst…..called him a “turd” or “worm”, whatever it was.

              “Let’s say that Maymon made some mistakes. I don’t think he did, but for the sake of argument let’s say he did. Even if he made mistakes, it still does not change the fact that Fester/Southern Comfort wanted to blacken and remove +Mark Maymon, and the leakers were acting to fight him. Maymon’s wrong in other words, would not cancel out Fester’s wrong. They are two different things and Fester needs to be held accountable for his wrong.” Then so does Mark.

              • Opinions are fine, but we’ve got facts, remember?

                Here, read what “Southern Comfort wrote on George’s Blog. Now, we can discuss whether what he wrote is truth, or whether he is trying to “blacken” Bishop Mark, has done wrong, and needs to be held accountable:

                In Father Fester’s own words:

                “Sorry to disappoint, Carl, but Garklavs who resigned, did not work on his own time in Syosset. He was being paid by order of Bishop Melchisidec, a decision he has no authority to make as an Interim Chancellor. One day +Mel agrees that Garklavs should go and then he is named Interim Chancellor and all of a sudden, he gives him an office so he can work on the 500 page report against Jonah. He gets free range of all clergy files. And we don’t think they are out to get +Jonah? I swear, I am not making this stuff up. It was confirmed today. Ask Eric Tosi.

                Oh, and btw, such a 500 page report being written or even researched by Garklavs is a total breach of conflict of interest rules by the vaulted MC Ethics Committee. He is writing the report to cover his own errors. Not to ethical is it?



                Thanks for offering another point of view in the battle to save the Orthodox Church in America. I am very alarmed about reports coming from the vast majority of faithful at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas that Bishop Mark is destroying our Diocesan Cathedral. People are leaving. He makes little attempt to engage the faithful. He suspended Fr John Anderson during Holy Week for coming back late from an appointment, which Mark never bothered to ask why Fr John took so long. This action was the last straw for many at the Cathedral who left to spend the rest of Holy Week and Pascha at sister parishes. Many are now saying they won’t be back as long as +Mark is there.

                I have heard that he no longer vests in the center of the Cathedral because the subdeacons refuse to vest him. And most telling, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has had enough of him over the Fr Anderson episode.

                It is becoming very clear that this man who Metropolitan Jonah rescued from big bad +Philip, and placed in one of the best Cathedrals in the OCA and the Diocese of the South has made a total mess of things. Now we hear that Bishop Nikon is pressing very hard and the mantra is going out that we MUST have an election NOW for bishop. We can’t wait. No one doubts that the South needs a bishop, but it is clear that Nikon is trying to shove Mark as the next bishop of the South.

                But how can this even be considered when he has made such a bloody mess of one parish, the Cathedral parish of the South? How can we expect a man who made a mess of his diocese in Toledo, and of course we were led to believe by Stokoe that is was all +Philip’s fault, and that +Mark was the martyr trying to do the right thing. Well, it looks like Stokoe fed us all another big piece of bull with +Mark. And then to confirm this it is now reported that +Mark himself was the main source of information that Stokoe was being fed during the +Philip vs. +Mark tussle. How revealing about the man. He works in the shadows and is not comfortable in the light.

                Here are the words people are saying to describe +Mark, “arrogant”, “selfish”, “despotic”, “aloof”, “condescending”, and worst of all a “lair.” It is amazing that not one of these descriptions could ever be hung on either Archbishop Dmitri or His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.

                Now this rush to sneak +Mark in as bishop. Something is not right. I remember when +Jonah was being vetted as the assistant bishop to +Dmitri we were given lots of links and opportunities to read what +Jonah had written. It was a great way to get inside +Jonah’s head and find out what he thought. With +Mark, we get nothing. The man is a mystery. But what is not a mystery to the folks in Dallas is that when he does open up his mouth, there is no love. Rather, dictates, demands, expectations of submission to the bishop. This is not what the South has ever been use to and the folks in Dallas have borne the full brunt of this insecure behavior and they are walking out.

                Another comment heard from parishioners in Dallas is “we feel like we are aliens in our own parish.” One beautiful legacy of Archbishop Dmitri is be trampled on, the legacy of patient love. Anyone who has ever been in his presence feels his unqualified desire to make you feel at home and to get to know you. Not so with this +Mark. It appears he is in it for one thing and one thing only, for Himself. He “wants, wants, wants.”

                It is time for people to start asking questions about +Mark. Who is he? What is his relationship to Mark Stokoe? What does he believe in? Why should he be the Bishop of the South? What does he bring to the Diocese?

                Folks in the South are respectful, but if you mess with them, they will let you know! They don’t like to be conned.”

                And here

                “The +Mark situation runs much deeper. He and +Nikon are joined at the hip. When the Gregory Burke matter was brought to Nikon and Mark’s attention by HB, they both said they would do nothing. Mark was made aware of this situation when he came to the South. He did nothing. Of course one has to know the inside connections. +Nikon, the Albanian Bishop of Boston is very close friends with the retired +Bishop Mark Forsberg, the long-time companion of Gregory Burke. +Nathaniel, who was the Temporary Administrator of the OCA during +Jonah’s leave, went to school with Mark Forsberg in Rome. They led a colorful life in Rome! Thus, +Nathaniel did nothing while Temporary Administrator.

                So the picture now becomes a bit clearer because +Jonah had made it clear that he will suspend Burke and call for a spiritual court. But if +Nikon refuses to give up the South, Burke is safe, for now.

                This also may explain why +Mark (Maymon) is so reluctant to acknowledge +Jonah having any authority over him. He has told others, incorrectly, that he is an Auxiliary Bishop of the Holy Synod. Well, first of all, there is no such thing. Just look at his title on the OCA webpage

                The Right Reverend Mark
                Bishop of Baltimore
                Administrator of the Diocese of the South

                Now let’s pay attention boys and girls. We are going to have a quiz. Where is Mark a Bishop? Yes, the Bishop of Baltimore. Now in what diocese is the city of Baltimore? Correct, the Diocese of Washington. And who is the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington? That’s right, Metropolitan Jonah, who is the Archbishop of Washington. So, now, here is your question, If +Mark is an Auxiliary Bishop, which he is, who is he the Auxiliary to? Right. Metropolitan Jonah. So who is +Mark’s bishop? +Jonah, not the Holy Synod.

                In fact, +Jonah can pull +Mark out of Dallas today. It is not a Synodal decision, it is a Diocesan decision of the Diocesan bishop, in this case the bishop who is the Administrator of the South is only there because +Jonah put him there and he remains +Jonah’s bishop, so with a phone call, +Mark is gone.

                You would think a man in his position would know who his boss is. But all during +Jonah’s leave, Mark NEVER called him. He never even emailed him. Again, I guess +Philip knew a disobedient bishop when he saw one.

                I don’t know what will happen to +Mark, maybe he will be nominated by the South, but one other thing +Mark does not know because he doesn’t care to be versed in the canons or the OCA Statute. Since he is an Auxiliary Bishop, he must be blessed by his bishop to have his name put into nomination for a vacant see. A ruling bishop of an auxiliary can withhold a name for consideration. He can also remove his name if it had already been blessed. An Auxiliary bishop, in reality has less authority than a parish priest. He can do nothing without the blessing of his Bishop and in this case Mark was too thick or too arrogant to at least keep both Nikon as LT and Jonah as his bishop informed of every move he made or a blessing for what he wished to do.

                And if push comes to shove, Metropolitan Jonah, as Primate, has the statutory authority and right of Pastoral Intervention for the good of the Church into any diocese. It is an authority only the Primate has. No other bishop has that authority. Not even the Synod as a whole, just the Primate. So +Mark, you better learn how to say, “I am sorry, please forgive me. I will be a good Auxiliary now” because you really don’t have a leg to stand on in the DOS.

                And finally, there will be much more about Mark’s manhandling of the Cathedral in Dallas.”


                As far as the stolen, personal, private, not-intended-to-be-seen-by-anyone-but-the-recipient emails Father Fester wrote, which Bishop Mark admittedly purloined, which was bad, you have to admit, anyone is free to go over to the ocanews web site here, read them, and post all the things you don’t like on George’s blog, so people can bring out into the open what he actually said, and then discuss it, rather than stating opinions that don’t do much good at all.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Karen, what’s forgotten in all of this is that Fr Joe’s private correspondence was hacked into and published without his permission. The “evidence” acquired from it is the “fruit of a poisoned tree.”

                  Please understand, for interfering in the Diocese of the South, Fr Joe should have been reprimanded but not destroyed.

                  However, this goes both ways: if Fr Joe were “interfering” in the DoS then by definition he could not be part of the DoS, hence a former employee. Hence his private correspondence while he was no longer in the employ of the DoS was strictly off-limits.

                  As for handing this stuff over to OCAN, well, that’s an egregious crime in and of itself.

              • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                Dear Michael and Rachel, (and perhaps Elizabeth?)

                Christ is Risen!

                You seem to be reacting to the quoted italicized text in my second post of May 9th.

                My own text is “Does this work ” etc coupled with a request to follow the link. There follows text which is clearly distinguished from my own writing by being set of by quote marks and italicized because it is not my argument. It is an argument used against me from another thread but with the sides “flipped”. I don’t think it is a trick question since the link to the original is there and I ask the reader to read the other via the link. The question, “does this work” should be seen as rhetorical with the implied answer being No. Karen posted along the same lines, and perhaps more clearly

            • Fr. Yousuf, you are right to remind us that discussing the manner in which the emails were obtained has distracted us from dealing with the issues of the emails themselves.

              Stokoe accused Fr. Fester of writing those postings with a view to making Bishop Mark look bad for not being pro-Jonah, but that assumed a lot of facts not in evidence. There is simply no evidence that Fr. Fester posted that Southern Comfort “volley” for any reason other than to expose Bishop Mark’s own inappropriate behavior.

              I will admit to finding Fr. Fester’s behavior suspicious and unnerving. I think he should have stayed out of this whole affair from the beginning. Fairly or unfairly, his reputation was badly tarnished by the SIC report, and if he hoped to speak out on the Metropolitan’s behalf in a way that would benefit him, he should have addressed those issues first.

              Fr. Fester’s contact with Bishop Nikolai and Bob Kondratick does not help matters. We can talk all day about Stokoe’s credibility, but a lot of money disappeared into thin air on Kondratick’s watch, Bishop Nikolai appears to be unstable, and both caused the OCA no small amount of trouble and legal expense with their lawsuits. The dean of the Washington cathedral had no business cavorting with either of them.

              And Metropolitan Jonah should have known better. If there’s some massive failing in the SIC report’s findings, it needs to be exposed, the victims need to be rehabilitated, and the accusers need to be defrocked and/or excommunicated as appropriate. If not, the people condemned in it should not hold significant responsibilities in the OCA again.

              One thing that hasn’t been discussed much is, assuming for a moment that Kondratick really was as crooked a chancellor as the spiritual court and the SIC report painted, these new policy guidelines relating to the office of chancellor would have been right up his alley. And it’s funny how Stokoe, Kondratick’s old nemesis, applauds and defends this.

              Finally, whether we are using our real names or pseudonyms, speaking publicly or privately, this should be a stern reminder to always comport ourselves in a manner befitting Christians. Whether anyone raids your email or leaves an open mic in your presence or not, remember that the Lord is always watching and listening to what you do and say, and whether your deeds are revealed on a blog in this life or not, they will be revealed to all on Judgment Day. (That’s in about a week and a half, right? 🙂 )

              • Thank you, Helga!

              • Helga, Monk James’ comment indicates that it would be more true to say a lot of money disappeared on Metropolitan Theodosius’ watch while Fr Kondratick was Chancellor under Metropolitan Theodosius. Fr Kondratick was never given a chance to defend himself. That’s a fact. A good question would be, “Why?”

                Your statement, “Bishop Nikolai appears to be unstable” is an opinion and a judgmental one. You are judging that Bishop Nikolai is unstable based on what you’ve read and by using the word “unstable” you discredit him and render him and everything he says invalid. “We don’t have to listen to Bishop Nikolai, he’s unstable!” If he’s been falsely accused as he claims, and Father Fester and other agree then it is a different story. I don’t know but I have so many doubts about it that it makes it impossible for me to pass judgment on him. There are facts and there are opinions. Let’s wait for the facts to come out. Father Fester and Bishop Nikolai discussed how he has kept quiet and not defended himself online. Maybe he will start to speak out soon. I hope so.

                You wrote, “both caused the OCA no small amount of trouble and legal expense with their lawsuits.”

                Bishop Nikolai’s and Father Kondratick’s lives were destroyed by the OCA leadership and You Know Who. In this country, we are given the right to sue when we have been wronged. If they are not innocent, why did they sue? I have an opinion about them based on what I’ve read, but I try to never state unflinchingly that my opinion is true until it’s proven to be true. Likewise, I would not state an opinion that they are guilty of the charges brought against them.

                “Cavorting” is a spin word because it reflects a bias we do not know to be fact. “Cavorting with known criminals” is your meaning and it’s not a good choice of words because we don’t know they are known criminals. The words spins our minds. We need to wait until the air clears and the facts are revealed about the validity of the SIC. The facts about Father Kondratick and Bishop Nikolai have not been fully made public and the “facts” that have been presented on ocablues are not reliable given what the high-ranking judge who heard Fr K’s case did with them. He threw them in the trash. That was enough for me to be convinced Fr K is not a villain. I have very little confidence (none) in the SIC and its creators.

                Karen, how can I say this without you getting all incensed? Concerning Bishop Nikolai tonsuring Terenty Dushkin a reader. I think I would like to ask Bishop Nikolai personally why he tonsured him and then I would have more information to help me understand. Until then, I withhold judgment. A dear friend of mine was convicted of fondling teenage boys forty years ago. He served time in prison, repented, went through treatment for alcoholism and is now a wonderful man who helps countless troubled people find their way through their addictions into sobriety. I would trust him with my life, and that’s saying a lot.

                Shall we paint all offenders with the same wide brush? Father Michael Oleska’s son reminds me a bit of Terenty Dushkin. Read about him on

                Father Michael Oleska was the leader in getting Bishop Nikolai out of Alaska. Why did I bring up the case of his son, Michael Philip Oleska? Because it’s a fact. I didn’t do it, he did. Am I making a judgment online? Nope. Just saying, is all. Judging is as judging does.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                Only a week and a half! I’ve so much to accomplish before then, please stop distracting me, as the comments grow ever more beyond the 300 milestone . . .

        • Mark from the DOS says

          Karen says:
          May 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

          The point that OCATruth fans conveniently ignore is the blatant hypocrisy in the accusations leveled at OCANews. The ends do not justify the means.

          The ends do not justify the means. Absolutely. Do you repudiate the retrieval and publication of the Fester e-mails Karen?

          • Absolutely. I’m appalled by the scheming, manipulative, underhanded, slanderous behavior on both sides of this conflict. I’ve commented elsewhere about how I feel about the terrible disorder I see in the OCA at this time (though, to be honest, spiritual disease and disorder seems to be the norm in much of contemporary Orthodoxy, sadly). My former Evangelical congregation is the epitome of relational health and genuine financial and spiritual integrity by comparison. It has been a real shock to see the power-mongering and low level of ethical and moral sensibility within so many within the institutions of world Orthodoxy. (To be fair, though, admittedly, within Evangelicalism at large, the picture is not so rosy as my former congregation.) I’m also tremendously thankful for my relatively healthy OCA parish and priests. Many years to all faithful bishops and priests who are the exception to so much of what we witness in this current conflict. They deserve our prayers, support and commendation. The others also need our earnest prayers.

            Forgive if my frank observations offend.

    • If you love decency, the Diocese of the South, and Abp Dmitri so much, why don’t you seem to give a darn that Abp. Dmitri’s Pastor to Penitent correspondence was leaked to OCATruth and they published it?

      Fr. Yousuf, if that was privileged correspondence, let Dn. Burke or Abp. Dmitri register their complaint. If they don’t, we can assume the correspondence was not privileged but a matter of publicly-accessible record.

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


        Christ is Risen!

        1. The correspondence was between two individuals. No one thinks either of the two gave them to to the OCATruth crew.

        2. If it is considered pastor-penitent communication, Abp. Dmitri and the DoS have an additional restraint from releasing it.

        Thus, one must begin with the assumption that it is privileged correspondence.

        You are in error to imply that only two parties are aggrieved. In as much as they were taken from Church files, the act is against the Church.

        If correspondence is only confidential after someone complains of the leak, and before the complaint can be assumed public, that makes “having been leaked” logically prior to the expectation of confidence, which is absurd. Does anyone think that OCATruth asked both parties before broadcasting it? Of course they didn’t.

        Helga, test your theory. Go in person to a chancery, any chancery, and demand to see any and all correspondence from the ruling hierarch to suspended clergy, and to make a copy for publication. Or write them, or phone in and ask. Just try it.

        George thinks we should assume any letter is confidential in the very article that starts this thread.

        “You don’t open a man’s mail Bp. Mark, even if it is sitting in an envelope on your desk. You don’t open a man’s mail Stokoe, even if it ends up in your mail box by mistake. Where I’m from, whenever you get your neighbor’s mail you either bring it over to his house or give it back to the mail carrier. It’s called basic Christian decency and basic common law.”

        Any one care to apply this standard all around?

        It is only becoming clearer that the rage at confidentiality breaches is both new-found and selective.

        Helga, I have difficulty imagining that any rational person would assume such correspondence could be assumed to be publicly accessible. Is the partisanship here totally blinding?

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          OK, Fr, I’ll make a deal with you: I’ll condemn the “leak” of the pastoral admonition of +Dmitri to Burke if you get your bishop to condemn MS and what he did to Fester. That way a notorious sinner gets to continue serving at the Holy Table in Miami and a normal family man (are you listenning Harry?) gets to return to his previous job as Dean of the Washington cathedral.

          Think of it as a wash.

        • You are in error to imply that only two parties are aggrieved. In as much as they were taken from Church files, the act is against the Church.

          Fr. Yousuf, I did not say only two parties were aggrieved, only that they had the responsibility of speaking out if the letter was in fact confidential, because they would be the ones in the best position to know the letter’s status.

          If the letter was indeed private but was not marked “personal” or “confidential”, or if it was left lying around and not kept in a protected system, such as a locked filing cabinet or a password-protected computer file, how would they have known if it was confidential? The Antiochian Archdiocese magazine recently published a letter from Metropolitan Philip to a deposed priest for everyone to read!

          As for how this compares to what happened to Fr. Fester, I hardly think Fr. Fester left his Gmail account open on the computer and said, “Hey, Bishop Mark, use this for whatever you want! I’m going to call you some nasty names in a couple of months, so stay tuned!”

    • Elizabeth says

      Fr. Yousuf Rassam , you couple the name of the Lord – rejoicing in His Resurrection – with your own angry, unloving words. This not only is wrongful conduct on the part of a priest, but another frightening example of how the evil one is at work in the Orthodox Church in America. Where are the true shepherds? Why is it that laypeople (not to mention, clergy!) of this church, who are living in sexual immorality, are allowed to serve in positions of leadership?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Oh, come off your high horse! I am sick and tired of folks playing holier than thou and that includes MS, most of the supporters of +Jonah, as well as some of his rabid detractors. Let’s concerate on process, facts, and principles rather than personalities, please!

        • Had to read that twice.

          Was distracted by that beautiful steed you are riding. He’s a humdinger.

        • But of course your point is well taken 🙂

          Then again Liz’s frustration is understandable, don’t you think?

          Personally I find obfuscation frustrating. Horse or no horse.

        • I would like to apologize, as I was unaware that another Elizabeth already was posting here – and most eloquently, at that.

          I, on the other hand, am confused and trying to understand the terrible situation that the OCA finds itself in.

          What I do know is that when homosexual sin is tolerated in a parish church, the spiritual life of that parish is effected. I have worshipped in an OCA parish which was languishing, in part, I believe, due to covert acceptance of the gay lifestyle on the part of its members. Now, we have learned that actively gay laypersons, clergy and probably even hierarchs preside over and influence the life of the entire Orthodox Church in America. In recent days, these leaders have moved beyond dark acts committed in hidden places to steal and to take vengeance openly. Yes, we are all sinners, and I count myself the first in that department. But the faithful deserve much better than we are receiving. Is it too much to ask that our shepherds and others entrusted with leadership at least strive toward holiness?

          Amen! to the words of Fr. Yousuf Rassam.

          Why? (another Elizabeth)

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Dear Elizabeth,

        Christ is Risen!

        Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
        And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2: 14 – 15.

    • Father Yousuf, I can try to address your concerns, both here and earlier, here.

      Here , is how Rod replied when Fr. Yousuf asked about the letter from +Dmitri to Burke.

      “The correspondence between Dmitri and the deacon was a matter of church governance and discipline, as I recall. I will go back and look it over. What this deacon did that got him suspended was a public matter.”

      We will have to leave it up to Rod to respond further.

      Fr. Yousuf wrote here:

      Your description of Fr. Fester’s leaked e-mails as being only or mostly “we have a priest who was asking a retired bishop how he was feeling now that his cancer was in remission.” is just silly. One of the many pertinent facts that you leave out is offering to make that bishop an active bishop again, with the seeming intimation of a quid pro quo. A little detail, I’m sure. Like his plotting preparation for Santa Fe. What was the ambush, that his plots didn’t work? Another “little detail” is not only does he call Bp. Mark a turd, but he plots against him, too.

      Let’s read what Father Fester actually wrote.

      Here is what Father Fester wrote to Bishop Nikolai concerning “putting [him] back to work for the church again”:

      So I would say, your help is still needed. Keep him strong,, keep BB out of his way, and start to rebuild your credibility. The time will come when what you are accused of doing will melt away in the face of direct confrontation from those who took you down and a meeting with the Synod to canonically state why you were retired against your will and why your diocese was taken away from you against your will. They have no canonical cause and they need to take you off retirement and put you back to work for the Church.” If what Father Fester is saying is true, then wouldn’t you say that was a good thing to say to Bishop Nikolai?

      Here is what Father Fester wrote about Metropolitan Jonah’s preparation for Santa Fe. My opinion is that this private email reflects these men trying to strategize before the meeting (“plot” if you will) because they knew there would be an effort to remove +Jonah (which has been proven). I for one have no problem with them talking about the strategy, nor is it for me to judge the men they talk about. Father Fester has a way of calling things as he sees them. If he saw it that way, he said it, in confidence. I’m sure he wasn’t lying in his correspondence. Father Fester wrote:

      “ His first order of business is going to be remove AG ( Fr. Alexander Garklavs). That will happen. Next it will be expose the conspiracy against him. That includes five members of the MC and BB and Mel ( Bishop Melchisedek). Dahulich will be at his side and counter BB. Mel is a worm. Bishop Mark Maymon will support HB as will Bishop elect Matt. With BB neutered, Nikon will fall into place and Tikhon wants to side with BB and Mel, he will be making a big mistake. Think he will side with HB. Nat. (Archbishop Nathaniel) will side with him and so will Irenee.

      BB is the one who needs to take LOA (Leave of Absence) not Jonah.

      Next is to put the MC back in their statutory box.

      These are the points he is making in his report. He is not pulling any punches.“

      My question to you, Father Yousuf. What about Bishop Benjamin? Are the two men lying to each other, or are they mistaken, or what? If what they are saying is true, then what is going on??!!!??

      • Sorry, I forgot to address your statement that Father Fester was plotting against +Mark Maymon. This is what Fr. Fester wrote regarding +Mark:

        Yes, the South would have been a good choice. Down here, the bishop is respected. Bishop Mark (former of AOCA) came here with a small chip on his shoulder given the way he was treated by Met. Philip (we are not alone with how bishops are treated). I have been encouraging him that he does not have to “prove” he is the bishop. Folks down here know he is and just want to be lead in a Godly manner.

        Bishop Mark Maymon will support HB as will Bishop elect Matt.

        Here’s the worst of what he wrote to

        “I just posted a volley under Southern Comfort on George’s blog about (Bishop) Mark. I think it can serve as a starting point to smoke this turd out.”


        Sounds like he wanted to smoke +Mark out, that is, get him out of the Cathedral where he was hurting the parish (we’ve read enough from there to know that it’s true). Was that a bad thing given what the people were saying about him? Father Fester gave Bishop Mark the benefit of the doubt at first, but if Bishop Mark had proven to be a good bishop, he would not have said what he said, nor tried to “smoke him out.” That looks like a shepherd trying to protect his sheep from another shepherd who cannot hear the Good Shepherd’s voice.

        A couple more things. I can’t go back through everything right now because dinner’s almost ready, so if I missed something, I’m not leaving it out deliberately.

        I have no agenda and I’m not secretly on anybody’s side. Just trying to see things as they are, is all, and I wish people would stop making blanket statements without facts and links and quotes to back up what they are saying.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Well, that was a couple more of instances of conduct unbecoming a priest: first, cussing out a bishop and second, interfering in another diocese. Thanks for reminding us.

          • You’re welcome!

            Cussing out a bishop…. I can’t tell you the times I’ve cussed out an old — of mine, in confidence, to friends. And nobody but those friends heard me. I’ll bet you’ve never done that, standing there with your stone in your hand… (not meant to be personal, but it reminded me)

            I forgot to say that it’s clear Fr Joseph Fester’s heart is also in Dallas, in the south. So “interfering in another diocese” is just quoting rules for the sake of being ornery. If a sheep is bleating on another person’s farmland because she strayed too far and got caught in that other farmer’s brambles, should the shepherd go across the fence to rescue it, or should he let it die because the farmer told him not to trespass or else?

            Oh, and by the way, Father Joseph is in very good company, starting with St. John the Baptist all the way down to the present. At least he didn’t call him a… I can’t say it, I don’t want to quote Jesus just now lest you be offended.

            It’s that there’s no telling anybody the TRUTH. Should I just go on my merry way and forget about it? For goodness sakes, can’t you people see what is happening in front of you? This good man has been fired and it’s wrong. It’s WRONG.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      What difference does that make anymore Fr? A man’s ecclesiastical career was destroyed because somebody broke into his e-mail and found out that he used the word “turd.” We play by new rules now Fr. Anything goes.

  5. Gregory says

    “I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
    southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

  6. “If these walls could talk.”

    Oh, to be a wall in Englewood right now.

    • Apparently, Bishop Mark failed his course in Antiochian subterfuge. He’s certainly failing OCA Klobuk-And-Dagger 101. How long until he drops out of school and bums around Mexico for awhile?

    • Dallas Texas says

      A wall would behold Arak and belly dancers in Englewood. Syosset is a tad less festive if they have had their “uh-oh” moment.

  7. Katherine says

    Has anyone notified the FBI of the fact that +Bishop MARK has admitted that he hacked into Fr. Joseph’s email account?

  8. Prothromos says

    How I long for the days of Archbishop +DMITRI. He embodied the Spirit of Christ and the grace of the Lord remains with him.

    All this chatter of impropriety and allegation make the Orthodox look incompetent and diminutive. It is no wonder we remain viewed by those that know us as ethnic Christian enclaves – our arguments with each other make village idiots appear superior.

    • lexcaritas says

      I agree with you, Prodromos and the office of the episcopacy and the priesthood is suffering in all of this. So is the Faith. Who would want to share with his unconverted family and friends what is going on and invite them to enter the “fullness of the Faith” that we claim to be? Cover up necessarily results.

      Within, however, our bishops begin look awful and unworthy of Eis pollas eti despota–and this does not apply, M. Stokoe notwithstanding, to Jonah only. Only four years ago I know people who witnessed the humility and gentleness of ++Dimitri and the deep affection showered on him by the faithful. Never had they seen a bishop act in this manner and be treated with such loving esteem. It drew them into the Church. But now . . .

      Mr. Stokoe has attacked Philip relentlessly. he had already brought down, I surmise, Herman and Nikolai, and Tikhon, and RK. After a lull of a year or so, he put Jonah in his sights and besmirched him and his office, by calling him disobedient, and a rogue and repeating the gravely troubled canard. But in doing this, Jonah was not the only one who drew Stokoe’s disdain; no he and Ms. Skordinski said things about the bishops on the “Holy” Synod that they couldn’t manage any thing out of a paper bag. In attacking Jonah Synod itself suffered. Sadly enough, in defense of Jonah, “his side” has also cultivated a deep distrust for certain of his alleged episcopal enemies–who have by their own public silence and private communications not done much to dispel the rumour of incompetence and conniving coming at them from both sides.

      There is great damage being done by us when it is by our love for each other that we are to be known and by which the world is to know Who Christ is. As with Israel of old, He is profaned because of us.

      There is not time or space to discuss it here, but a quiet, deep, dispassionate and Holy Spirit-guided discussion of true leadership and primacy and true conciliarity is needed. These are no disjunctive categories as so many, in their antagonistic camps, would apparently have it; rather they are attributes that must accompany each other in perfect harmony. What we have now is disonance and its is ugly and far from the pursuit of goodness, truth and beauty which is in Christ Who give the peace of God which passeth understanding. To Him be honor and glory now and ever and unto ages of ages.

      Christ is risen. He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith: may we keep our eyes and hearts on Him.

      • Chris Plourde says

        Clear. Concise. Correct.

      • “Who would want to share with his unconverted family and friends what is going on and invite them to enter the “fullness of the Faith” that we claim to be?”

        Bingo! I am the only Orthodox in my family (I’m married with kids and many extended family members in western Christian traditions). My parents attend a large Evangelical Church headed by a former Greek Orthodox!

        I second what Chris said.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Lex, the good that may come out of this is that the hatred that exists in the highest reaches of our church will cause the Lord to judge us. This may very well entail the demolition and reconstruction of the OCA.

        As you and everybody else on this site knows, I treasure our church’s autocephaly. However I treasure our church’s (and any church’s for that matter) devotion to the Gospel. People often ask “what is the highest authority in the Church?” The bishops? The primate? The Holy Synod? None of the above. Our Head is Jesus Christ Himself. Fidelity to the Gospel is the ultimate trump.
        Once a church loses that, the Lord will “vomit it out” as he did to Laodicea.

        How do we know that we as a church are no longer faithful? I believe it is by the loss of love. This can manifest itself in different ways: the embrace of heresy, the loss of ascetic rigor, and most definately the scheming of sinners. We can add intense hatred for innocent shephers. The first two are not operative here, but the latter two are most definately in play.

        The scheming of the Stokoe-Solodow-Skordinski e-mails clearly show a pattern of disregard for our primate. Everything since then shows nothing but extreme hatred for the man. We know that at least two bishops –BB and BMel–despise +Jonah. What witness is this to the gentiles? None. Unless the entire MC repents –and this includes Fr Hopko and Bp Mark–the Lord will “vomit” out the OCA.

        If you will permit me to add something more. As you know, I’ve been a vociferous critic of the ethnic eparchies that exist in America. I won’t bore you with the details, but one of the biggest indictments against them was that they reflected the lack of love towards Christ by their devotion to ethnic nostalgia. I thought that in this case the OCA had a fighting chance to show them that autocephaly could free them from this demonic snare. It still could. However, the OCA’s present fixation on destroying +Jonah as characterized by its devotion to legalism and statutory language harnessed in favor of promoting obtuse principles like “conciliarity” over and above the Law of Love, means that its leading lights have now found their own nostalgic delusion which can be compared with the ethnic nostalgia of the GOA, the AOCNA, the Serbs, Bulgars, etc.

        • Chris Plourde says


          You know, people actually read sites like this. They come to places like this seeking information, wisdom, maturity. People come for edification, to be built up and strengthened in their faith.

          Lex’s may be the only Orthodox post on this thread. He is clear about the real problem, which lies in the hearts of those who choose sides and employ any means necessary to destroy each other, he is concise about the solution to the issues confronting the Church, and he is correct that our eyes should be focused on Light of Christ instead of the darkness we perceive swirling around us.

          And having read it, decent people say “Praise God.”

          Your response, which at the end is that you distain all Orthodox Churches on these shores, is one I hope you’re not planning to use at the judgement seat.

          • Michael Bauman says


            You are wrong in your assertion that George M “distain(s) all Orthodox Churches on these shores”

            George distains the delusion that prevents us from being the Church on these shores. A delusion we all seem to share in (with different flavors). It is a delusion that we are all being called to see, confront and, by God’s grace, overcome so that we can be the Church on these shores.

            The only way to win is for each of us to submit to one another in the love and presence of the person of Jesus Christ. That does not seem to be happening right now from a great number of people. Our love of the created thing has overwhelmed our love of God.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Thank you Michael. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Someday if it’s God’s will we will have a truly autocephalous, territorial church in the US. One in which the bishops are truly conciliar and not intimidated by those who use them for their own nefarious ends.

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, the fatal flaw I’m beginning to see in the OCA is that it is an entity that was essentially created by human beings to fill a political need. The ethnic jurisdictions at least have real apostolic authority behind them even when they choose to ignore it.

                I’m not sure the OCA does. Could be wrong. I often am.

                The overall problem is that we are all acting as if the Apostolic commission ceased to have any meaning in A.D. 1453 if not before (A.D. 1917 for the Russians).

                • Harry Coin says


                  Fair warning: it isn’t better elsewhere– they’re (we’re, being literal) only better at using money donated by our forebears to make it seem better. And it isn’t going to last.

                  In the end, it’s becoming clear to me that money has the character of medicines that mask pain in high leadership places. Things seem fine until it runs out, but then the underlying problem, unaddressed, gets worse owing to the neglect.

                  When the money runs dry, the people who are in it for the money somehow *poof* melt away.

                  What you’re seeing in the OCA is, in fits and starts, folks focusing on the core issues as there isn’t money any more to push the problem down the road.

                  You want real problems? Try getting things fixed when the people making decisions are across a couple oceans.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Harry, I completely agree with you on this. The problem however is not who has apostolic succession (as all canonically elected bishops do) but the fact that the OCA, despite being an Americanist church otherwise perfectly suited for these shores, is still controlled by an ethnic mindset in reality if not in appearance.

                    The ethnic rump of the OCA is just as hidebound, political, and lacking in vision as the Arab component of the AOCNA, the Greek majority of the GOA, and the other jurisdictions. Because this component is concentrated on the East Coast, it has paralleled the political liberalism of the other Blue States. This shouldn’t matter but as a rule the politcially leftist states tend to have politically leftist congregations. Hence the grovelling immigrant-descended spirit that looks to the NCC for cultural affirmation.

                    That’s only part of the picture though.

                    • Harry Coin says


                      So, is it your take that the OCA is mostly ‘Carpatho- ..whoever they married..’ these days? Or, well, what?

                    • Christopher says

                      the OCA, despite being an Americanist church otherwise perfectly suited for these shores

                      No, that’s not quite it either. None of the “jurisdiction” are “Americanist” in any real sense. Orthodoxy has not met western culture in a positive way – only in a confrontational way. Orthodoxy as practiced – as a way of “being Church” is not working here. It’s two MO’s, ethnic and converts playing Eastern, is nothing that is sustainable…

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Michael, to my mind, the fatal flaw of the OCA is the extreme hatred that certain bishops have for +Jonah. Also the idiotic notion that the sun rises and sets in Syosset.

            • Chris Plourde says

              I’d ask you to re-read the post to which I responded in the context of our daily prayer:

              Save, O Lord, and have mercy on them that hate and wrong me, and make temptation for me, and let them not perish because of me, a sinner.

              George’s post and that prayer seem dissonant.

              The only way to win is for each of us to submit to one another in the love and presence of the person of Jesus Christ.

              I find myself in total agreement with you here, and this attitude has to start somewhere so why not with us?

              Christ has never asked that I submit only to those who are agreeable to me, and like most people I’ve experienced bishops and priests who were and who were not. Being a member of the laity my task was not to judge them and criticize them, but to pray for them and to submit with love to them as they were anointed and appointed to lead my parish and the Church. It’s not always easy.

              I’ve been under clergy who were “compromised,” and clergy who were not. Clergy who were personable, and those who were prickly. Clergy who were warm, clergy who were cold. Clergy who were knowledgeable, clergy who were ignorant. Clergy who seem born to be priests, and those who (to use George’s term) appear to have been dumped.

              In each case its been possible to submit in love only to the extent that I keep my eyes firmly on Christ, and while I have not always been successful in that effort I’ve always tried.

              Rather than wait for God to judge and destroy the OCA and then to rebuild it, why not fix our collective eyes on Christ and pray for those who hate us (or hate Jonah, or hate Benjamin, Mark, Melchizedek, Nikon, or any other bishop, priest or layman) and make temptation for us?

              Which is not to say that we cannot discuss problems and personalities, but that any discussion needs to be in the context of our regular prayer life and with our eyes fixed on Christ. When we start fixating on shortcomings, or even wrongdoings, we lose our fixation on Christ.

              Clarity about what we love is more beneficial to all than clarity about what we don’t love. That’s true in raising kids, it’s true in managing employers and employees, it’s true in our political lives, and it’s true in the politics of the Church as well.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Prothromos, if I may quote a comment from the other day: many Orthodox churches are ethnic dance clubs where occassionally a liturgy breaks out. We gotta laugh.

  9. George,

    I am just a lurking catechumen but I wanted to ask if you would please consider getting rid of the threaded comments? They make it very difficult to follow the longer threads without investing too much time.

  10. I don’t remember who posted the phrase “don’t monkey with our primate”, but I have now made a LOL along those lines.

  11. Seraphimista says

    I want y’all to see something that Bishop Mark sent out last night on the Friends list, which is the e-mail list of St. Seraphim’s Cathedral. It’s his “conflict resolution guidelines.” At no point on there does he advise us when it is advisable to steal your opponent’s e-mails and send them to Mark Stokoe.

    Seriously, this man ain’t right. I’m not trying to be funny. Something is really wrong with a guy who acts this way when he’s driven his parish into the ground. He ADMITTED TO BEING A THIEF, and he has the nerve to talk this way!

    Monday, May 09, 2011
    Proposed Guidelines for Parish Conflict Resolution in the Diocese of the South

    “Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13.1) “But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the Law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him” (St. Paul’s Letter to Titus 3.9f)
    Resolution of conflict in a parish is an urgent matter whose goal is to maintain the peace, harmony and unity of the Church, for so it is well-pleasing to God, recognizing that Christ died for the sake of us all—for both us and those with whom we may have differences of opinion. Dissension in the Church is a scandal that makes a mockery of Christ’s loving death. The sign that we are His disciples lies in our love for one another.

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church [i.e., pastor or bishop], and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

    1. Disputes should be confined to the absolute minimum number of people, completely avoiding slander and gossip.

    2. Recognize that we do not all have to agree on everything, that there are legitimate differences in perspective, but that mutual respect and love must always prevail. Respect includes abiding by the judgment calls and discretionary decisions of those in authority, even if you would have made a different decision had you been in charge. Give them your input, but then allow the parish priest, committee chairmen, etc., to do their work to the best of their ability, setting aside criticism and showing them gratitude for their efforts.

    3. If you have an issue with another parishioner,

    a. Speak to him privately.

    b. If you are not able to resolve the issue, take it to your pastor. 4. If you have an issue with your priest,

    a. Speak to him privately.

    b. If you are not able to resolve the issue, then you may take it to your dean.

    c. If there is a charge of misconduct or moral impropriety against the priest, keep the matter confidential, informing only the dean, who will report the matter to the diocesan bishop. (If the charge is against the dean himself, then you may go directly to the bishop.)

    d. If the issue is one of general lack of effort or of incompatibility between a priest and the community he serves, having already worked with the pastor and solicited the help of the dean, the parish council may decide to request a change of pastor. The request must be kept in the strictest confidence and communicated to the bishop by a letter signed by every member of the parish council; those dissenting must also sign, but they may indicate their dissent. The bishop looks to the parish council, for the most part, as the voice of the parish. They are the ones who were deemed in good spiritual and financial standing and properly elected by the general assembly, but he alone will then decide whether or not to reassign the priest.

    5. Nothing should happen without the knowledge of the parish priest, and no meeting of the parish council may ever take place unless the pastor is present or has authorized the meeting to take place in his absence. In no case should people beyond those directly involved be troubled with a dispute. No letters, e-mail messages, petitions, etc., should be circulated.

    6. If the issue remains unresolved, then and only then, you may make an appointment with the diocesan bishop. Such an appointment must be set up through the pastor.

    7. Confidential correspondence to/from the diocesan bishop or metropolitan is strictly the property of the hierarchy and is not to be shared with anyone.

    Let us be sure to heed the words of St. Paul, realizing that sometimes there are in the flock, wolves in sheep’s clothing. In his letter to the Romans he writes, “I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissentions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded Romans 16: 17-18)”

    Yours in Christ,
    + MARK Bishop of Baltimore and Administrator of the Diocese of the South

    CC: His Grace Bishop NIKON
    Seraphim (Hugh) Cole, Warden

    “Wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Not quite. Wolf in shepherd’s clothing is more like it.

    • Remember, Bishop Mark, if you are reading this, that Christ stepped right out into the public square and shouted his anger and indignation at the false shepherds. He nailed them right where it hurt and got crucified for it. He just couldn’t take it any more. Now, if people are looking for tawdry details to feed their hunger for gossip and slander, they had better deal with that sin because it destroys the lives of their victims. But we who want to see justice and truth are fed up with what’s been going on. We know the difference.

    • You missed the PS at the bottom of that document that says “Except for conflicts with priests in other diocese” and also “All matters pertaining to confidentiality shall be vetted by Mark Stokoe of OCANews who will make the final determination of what should be confidential and what can be public.”

      7. Confidential correspondence to/from the diocesan bishop or metropolitan is strictly the property of the hierarchy and is not to be shared with anyone.

      This is very very interesting though. This seems to imply that all communication between bishops and the metropolitan regardless of method or topic is the “property” of the hierarchy. So in essence the Synod has right to all communications between Bishops and the Metropolitan.

    • Mark from the DOS says

      c. If there is a charge of misconduct or moral impropriety against the priest, keep the matter confidential, informing only the dean, who will report the matter to the diocesan bishop. (If the charge is against the dean himself, then you may go directly to the bishop.)

      It seems to me this is the very type of approach that got the RCC in such hot water in dealing with the sex abuse scandals. “Keep quiet and let the church handle it.” It is dangerous ground we tread upon.

    • Prospective Nomad says

      Oh, dear. This is the worst of Toledo redux. Very early in his episcopacy, +MARK posted a conflict-resolution policy on his diocesan website that was similar if not identical to the above. I honestly thought that he had learned his lesson from Troy. (Fr. Antypas was the dean until quite late in the game.) Here’s what’s coming next: “Parish Council workshops,” wherein Parish Council members will be told that they are not trustees of their churches (state law notwithstanding), but rather “lead volunteers,” whose sole function is to assist the priest in the implementation of his program, quite irrespective of whether that program meets the test of “reasonable prudence” that the relevant laws impose as a fiduciary duty upon trustees of nonprofit corporations , at least in my state. Readers of this forum who serve on Parish Councils in the DOS would be well advised to familiarize themselves with their own states’ laws. As applied in the Diocese of Toledo, +MARK’s policy essentially abolished all distinction between prudential disagreement and spiritual disobedience. If a priest wanted to do something (or refrain from doing something) that a Parish Council member believed failed to meet the “reasonable prudence” test, the member’s only choices were to resign from the Council or break the law and risk being sued. Unless +MARK happened to dislike a particular priest, a Parish Council member could not oppose the priest on a financial matter and remain in office. This is ultimately the reason that my parish is teetering on the edge of insolvency.

      As applied, the provisions describing how a Parish Council may request a change of pastor will become a dead letter–again, unless +MARK happens to dislike that priest. Quite early in +MARK’s episcopacy, congregations effectively lost the ability to elect their own Parish Councils (or at least my parish did), through a series of episcopally mandated changes to the parish constitution. The first forbade nominations from the floor at the annual meeting–ostensibly to prevent someone with a canonical impediment from being elected. Instead, the nomination process theoretically was turned over to a committee appointed by the council. The priest, however, had an absolute veto over the composition both of the committee and of the slate of candidates that the committee produced–again, under the guise of canonical good standing. No one was in a position to argue–after all, we hadn’t heard anyone’s Confession. The predictable result was Soviet-style ballots at the annual meeting. In most years, the charade of forming a committee was dispensed with, and the priest simply selected the names to appear on the ballot. If you have a humble and sensible priest, you might survive this. If you have a priest who insists on spending a dime every time he gets a nickel in his pocket, you’re about to learn the meaning of powerlessness. You will be in my prayers. You will need the prayers of many people more righteous than I.

    • Eleni Palmos says


  12. Geo Michalopulos says

    The irony is so thick you need a buzz-saw to cut it.

    • Seraphimista says

      Tell me about it. Seeing that this morning made me think this guy really is messed up in the head. He doesn’t see himself as he is. Even if he was only interested in self-preservation, he wouldn’t have put out something like this. When his fall comes, it’s going to come hard, and I’m going to praise God.

      Hey Priest Basil Biberdorf, can we see your thoughts on Lessons of Leadership from Bishop Mark? He’s your guy now.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Priest Basil, I have previously withheld arguing with you out of respect for you office (and because you’re from my diocese), but Seraphimista’s point is well-taken. How can you now defend this entire denouament? It’s simply abominable. More importantly, how will you as a priest in the DoS be able to trust your confidences in the present Administrator?

        • He isn’t in the DOS. As he said in other posts. He’s in Penn.

          And Bishop MELCHISEDEK is his bishop.

          • well bless yur heart says

            He was, I believe. once upon a time, down in a mission Houston way. (Woodlands, maybe?) But now he shills for Bishop Melchisedek.

        • Dear to Christ George et al,

          Christ is Risen!

          The Conflict resolution guidelines that Bishop Mark promulgated based on Mt 18 are very helpful when a congregation is conflicted and when they come from a impartial third party. I am the founder of the Coalition of Orthodox Peacemakers an young Pan-Orthodox ministry which is committed to teaching, nurturing and sustaining a Culture of Peace within the Orthodox Churches. In this case, just like when a parish priest’s exhortations to peace and reconciliation are ignored when he is party to the conflict, unfortunately this may be the case with Bishop Mark. Often we can loose sight of the truth of the message because of the position/person of the messenger. The challenge is that St Seraphim as a community needs to adopt these guidelines as a matter of culture, not just a way to “deal with conflict” or an encyclical type exhortation. Conflict can actually be good if it is used for growth and repentance and the Glory of God. The Coalition of Orthodox Peacemakers are here to assist local communities work through the process of a conflicted conversation for the good of all involved and for the upbuilding of the Church. The confusion with Bishop Mark’s letter is that on this blog and on others we are dealing with the culture of the OCA which is a much wider community than just St. Seraphim, I would suggest that those guidelines need to be adopted at the AAC to really benefit the OCA.

          In the Antiochian Archdiocese which as you know has seen its share of conflict – this summer in Chicago we will be unveiling a NEW initiative on the Archdiocesan level to help nurture and sustain a culture of peace within our parishes, we have also begun local parish interventions to teach and foster healthy reconciliation . I have a few articles items on my parish website if anyone is interested. go to the tab marked PEACEMAKING on the left for more information. Also if anyone is interested hosting a parish retreat/conference/mediation etc we can be contracted through our Pan-Orthodox website

          My prayers are with our sister Church at this difficult time, with the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council and all of the faithful seeking the “peace from above” – do not loose faith but be strengthened in the hope of the Resurrection.

          In the Risen Lord,

          +Fr. John

        • I have a fairly new personal policy to interact with anonymous blog commentators only when I have reasonable certainty that I’m not dealing with shills. I’ll violate that policy by saying that my comments in this forum have been primarily intended to battle the “hype machine” that has been working overtime to damage the reputations of specific bishops, priests, and devoted laity without any supporting evidence. I am still considering the situation with Bishop Mark, but the full details of what happened are far from fully established. A post I put up earlier today works through some of the policy issues involved. No harm is done by waiting for the facts to be determined.

          As for the “respect for [my] office”, is that the same respect as having no objection to a hierarch’s being characterized as a “turd”? If so, I think I’ll take a pass on any more respect.

          P.S. I’m a son of the Diocese of the South. The first Orthodox service I ever attended was at the St. Seraphim cathedral. I was received there. Fr. John Anderson was my beloved father-confessor for several years. I helped found a mission in the Dallas area as a layman, and I returned to the diocese following my graduation from SVS. I relocated to the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania in August, 2009, not too long after Bishop Melchisedek became the bishop here. Those who speak ill of +Melchisedek don’t know him.

          • Father Basil, what is available for all to read is evidence enough. Church Policy is working like a filter in the minds of many who are not seeing clearly. We believe what we want to believe, or are programmed to believe. It can mess with your mind. “Calling a bishop a turd” seems to be a huge offense around here. Think clearly about this. If you allow how you see the world to be colored by the glasses you put on every day (for example, that you are a priest and therefore you are automatically wiser and more correct than me, or that a bishop is more important than a person, or that the Church is bound by rules), you will see the entire world tinged by that color. Take off the glasses, get over the idea that he said it (as though you have never said anything like that about anyone, and that privately!), and say, “is it true?” Then look at the evidence. Read the comments about Bishop Mark. People don’t like him.

            I can’t judge the other things that were said except to wonder *why* they were said. Because they were said in confidence, I am more inclined to believe them. I don’t have church policy or particular loyalties that color my thinking. I just have right and wrong. There is a mountain of wrong to deal with, and we all know for certain the wrong is ongoing, and I can’t for the life of me see how Metropolitan Jonah’s and his supporters’ wrongs amount to more than a hill of beans by comparison.

            You write, “…my comments in this forum have been primarily intended to battle the “hype machine” that has been working overtime to damage the reputations of specific bishops, priests, and devoted laity without any supporting evidence.”

            Well, this mountain of wrong has been happening for a long time, and those who could stop it have not stopped it. This is evidence. It speaks volumes about the non actions of the bishops and clergy and Metropolitan Council, who are allowing it to continue.

            What the people write is evidence.

            Newspaper articles are evidence.

            What Monk James writes is evidence. Do not discount the words he wrote. It’s very important that this is dealt with.

            Those in high places in the OCA who could have made things right didn’t. The SIC is not evidence. The high-ranking judge in Fr. Kondratick’s case did throw it all out. Try to deny it. Smear Monk James’ reputation to make what he wrote not true. In other words, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it. See if it makes you dizzy.”

            All of the emails are evidence that speak more loudly against the mountain of wrong going on, and those who are responsible, than they do against Metropolitan Jonah, Father Fester, or the guys who started ocatruth.

            • A Remnant says

              Standing round of applause for Rachel for her continued service to OCA!

              • …gulp… -blush!-

                • Guess I’ll post this here, under my own comment. Then you guys can read it if you want to, or ignore it as being the better and more Christian choice. (Warning: If you have not read this letter, do not read it, especially if you are pure of heart and pious. It’s too upsetting. If you choose to read it, you might want to first, in your mind, spend a moment to discredit me, the owner of the blog where the letter was posted, and Bishop Nikolai, and anyone else who needs discrediting, in order to ensure that you will sleep without nightmares tonight. If what is written there isn’t true, then all we need to be bothered about is that bad bishop we already know about. In that case, what a story teller! If it is true, then WHAT IS GOING ON??!!!!

                  (P.S. A few years ago, I inadvertently and quite innocently stumbled on the history section of another person’s computer, a “pious Orthodox Christian brother,” and saw that he had been spending hours looking at things of that same nature. I wish it had never happened. It wasn’t pretty. Oh well, these things happen.)

                  A letter from Bishop Nikolai to Bishop Benjamin can be found here. I just read it for the first time. If it’s true, it needs to be read because the OCA is at stake. If it’s not true, I’m sharing it anyway. Lord, have mercy (crosses self).

                  That link doesn’t work, try this:


                  “For those who think perception is everything, that is totally false. Actuality is everything. And actuality is what needs fresh air and the light of day.” (- from Jacob, Rachel’s guy.)

                  • ….if this is true, Lord have mercy!

                  • JDWatton says

                    How can one tell the number of hours spent viewing a website page(s) from just the history file? I mean if there are are a 100 pron websites in the history that could translate to hours or only minutes. All the more reason for me to use Portable Apps from my flash drive. That way all the caches go with me. Where I work pron sites are all blocked (so I am told) but I certainly don’t want my employer to see how much time I spend on Orthodox blogs and news sites.

                    • From the context of the letter it sounds like he was trying to backup all the files on the computer and there was a lot more data than expected. Upon further examination he probably found downloaded video files, which will show the total length of the video somewhere in the description. This was my assumption when “hundreds of hours” was mentioned.

                  • Dallas Texas says

                    Has this document been forwarded to the SMC? No doubt they’ve had it a while. I believe this is the document +Jonah referred to in Santa Fe that had his detractors shrieking in horror that the he was retialiating against a whistle-blower. What kind of church operates this way? Seriously??

                    Concerning Burke, he is no longer listed among the clergy on the OCA site, but he is listed as clergy on the site of the Miami cathedral. Does anyone know his status?

                    • What kind of church operates this way? Seriously??

                      One with a “gravely troubled” set of bishops, apparently.

          • Heracleides says

            Priest Basil – While Bp. Mark may be a turd, does my going one step further and opining that I think Bp. Benjamin is a ‘floater’ also cause you to lose sleep?

          • Jesse Cone says

            Fr. Basil,

            You seem very upset about a crusade against your bishop. Perhaps you can elaborate because I am unaware of such a crusade. To my knowledge the closest thing you might be referring to is my apologia for why HB might have had reason to removed him as temporary Chancellor. It consists of a paragraph. You may think it was tasteless and illadvised, but it is hardly a scathing attack.

            If you do think it was tasteless I am sure you are postively sea-sick with Mark Stokoe. If you think I am a schill because I was at one time anonymous, then I am sure you have plenty more fodder from elsewhere on the internet. If you think it right to claim OCAT was a schill for a Fester/Jonah axis, I ask you to provide proof. If you lack proof and still wish to claim it, then cut both ways and call OCAN a schill for [fill in the blank].

            For Pete’s sake Fr., don’t you realize that people are legitimately concerned about the OCA’s penchant for double-standards and underhanded power-grabbing end runs around our Statute? Don’t you think it would be prudent for our leadership to address these issues?

            • I’m not upset, but rather tired of the insinuations that Bishop Melchisedek is part of some unrighteous rebellion against Metropolitan Jonah. I’m not speaking of any particular comment by any specific individuals (although this thread itself provides a couple of examples).

              I don’t think you’re a shill because you were anonymous or because you support Metropolitan Jonah. (Shoot, I don’t NOT support Metropolitan Jonah myself. I even cast one of the delegate votes in support of his canonical election.) I think you’re a shill according to definition 1a :

              1 a : one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman or gambler)

              Obscuring your identity is one thing (although someone famous once denounced such behavior: “If you cannot even sign your name to such an accusation, is it really responsible to publically denounce a fellow Christian and stir up suspicion and distrust in others?”).

              Presenting yourself as someone else is another thing entirely. So is presenting writings of similarly pseudonymous collaborators under their real names in order to obscure the relationship or to lend more credibility to your efforts. These actions are known as shilling. It’s lying of a specific sort. If you need even more help discerning this, there’s a Wikipedia article to help.

              I’ve said precious little about my opinions concerning Mark Stokoe or the extent of the involvement of Fr Fester and Metropolitan Jonah with Some web searches will support that statement. I’ve spoken rather forthrightly concerning the OCATruth principals who were indisputably involved, and even approved your comments in response to those statements. That’s more than you accorded the people you defamed at

              I know where the underhanded power-grabbing and end-runs are to be found, and they’re not on the Holy Synod.

              • Father Basil —

                How cleverly worded. Not part of an “unrighteous” rebellion. Clever.

                • I’m not trying to be clever. I don’t think Bishop Melchisedek is part of a rebellion of any sort.

                  • I don’t think Bishop Melchisedek is part of a rebellion of any sort.

                    Do you think then that he is just an “innocent bystander” who unwittingly got “sucked in”?
                    Or maybe just “the new kid on the block” wanting to “fit in”?

              • A Remnant says

                Yup – That would fit the writer of these words well, no surprise he got to the daffynition so quickly!

                I think I’m a shill according to definition 1a :

                1 a : one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman, gambler or Bishop)

              • insinuations that Bishop Melchisedek is part of some unrighteous rebellion against Metropolitan Jonah

                It seems to me that he is whether he wants to be/likes it or not.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Fr Basil, he and the others who are named by MS as being part of the rebellion can put an end to it in no time flat. They can even put their money where their mouths are and remove the actual leaders of the rebellion from the MC. But that wouldn’t suit their purposes would it? Concialiarity and discretion and all.

              • Jesse Cone says

                Fr. Basil,

                I’ve read your response a couple of times, and to be honest a lot of it is not clear to me. What is mostly clear is that the only discussion that you seem capable of having is one that is centers around OCAT and your problems with it. I’m sorry if I have so grievously offended you in my actions on the site have been such an obstacle.

                It’s also clear to me that you make a lot of assumptions about me, OCAT, etc. For instance, you mentioned elsewhere that I was using my reputation as a “reasonable grad student” to try to lend credibility to the site. I don’t remember doing that. I don’t think my worldwide grad student reputation is much to reckon with, and I think you mistake our efforts completely if you think we were trying to stir up a “hype” machine. Trust me, people’s fears are real and we just started voicing them. If there wasn’t anything at all there, what would have kept us from fading into the dark recess of the internet? Obviously, we struck a chord.

                You also mistake us if you think we set out to besmirch hierarchs.and stir up suspicion. We do not shy away from articulating suspicions however, and we sincerely hope the hierarchs address them.

                I believe people have asked you other questions. I would be interested to hear your response.

                • The original post of mine (#151) was, frankly, an ill-judged response to taunts from mostly anonymous posters. It was ill-judged because such anonymous taunts merit no response at all.

                  The main part of my argument is only to say that the insults hurled against a number of pious, respectable, and respected clergy and laity are misdirected and even untrue in several instances. A secondary part of my argument was to clarify that I don’t call anyone a shill because he is anonymous, but only when he misrepresents himself with the intent to deceive. I’m not preoccupied with your own site, as I think the evidence now speaks for itself.

                  As for the other questions people have asked me (as if I were some authority or spokesman on this subject or have special secret knowledge, neither of which is correct), I’ll happily engage in conversation if the respondents will simply reveal their names and give the appearance that the name is real. If they don’t want to do it here, there’s a contact form at What I won’t do, beginning right now, is to bother giving careful responses to a mob of malcontents, or what could be one malcontent masquerading as five, who simply want to pillory whomever doesn’t raise a fist with them.

                  • Christopher says

                    As a software engineer, I think you are familiar with the wild west of the internet and the use / misuse of identity. As a “victim” of identity theft, I will do what I can to avoid that no minor inconvenience again. “Christopher” is my real name but no need to expand on it. Besides, you only ask for the “appearance” of identity (which is true because there is no way of confirming these names), so what’s the point?

                    Your description of the folks here who are genuinely perplexed and concerned about this issue and the responses to it by the bishops, clergy, and MC (particularly the homosexualist agenda) as a “mob of malcontents” is, well let me bite my tongue and just say it’s part of the problem, not part of the solution…

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Father, the above is my real name. My main questions to you which apparently went unanswered:

                    If Mr. Stokoe is living in a homosexual partnership should he be on the MC?

                    Should active homosexuals have any leadership role within the Church?

                  • Jesse Cone says

                    Thanks for the clarification. I guess what I’m not sure about who/ what exactly are referencing. Perhaps I’m just too egocentric to think your criticisms are always levied at me!

                    My question to use is what can the Synod do now to restore the trust of the faithful who email personal and private matters to their priests?

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Jesse, not you. Just an unanswered question asked directly of Fr. Basil sometime back. If he answered it was lost in the forest.

                      So, Fr. Basil would support the removal of Mark Stokoe from the MC if he is living in a homosexual partnership and equally the removal of any bishop who engages in any sexual activity, but especially homosexual activity.

                      Nice to have a clear response from a priest on that topic don’t you think?

  13. I am not commenting on the illegal capture of the e-mails. I am, however, going to point out the ludicrous claim that an e-mail contains material that should be treated with the same confidence as information imparted during sacramental confession. I’m still laughing at that absurd effort to justify anger. We have enough problems without ridiculous excuses.

    • Antonia, some people have an arrangement with their spiritual fathers where they have the spiritual counsel by email, and absolution is done by a local priest, or by the spiritual father when they are able to be together. I would expect that kind of email to be treated as if it were a sacramental confession.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Antonia & Helga, while I realize the existence of such ad hoc arrangements and that they can be a necessity, several problems come to mind:

        1. Antonia’s objection that the assumption of annoymity and/or privacy with any eletronic communications is quite valid. Electonic communications are and should always be considered much like the party line conversations on the old telephone set ups–essentially public. Any computer or electronic device that communicates or can communicate with any other device can and (sooner or later will be) hacked.

        2. The anthropological modes of thought that allow even the assumption of privacy for electonic comunications and making them in any way equivalent to direct human communication is mindboggling and, IMAO, counter to the tradtion of the Church. It is an economia that should never become usual, expected or sought as normal.

        3. The only way one could even begin to consider any sort of privacy is if there is a secure, stongly encrypted mode of tranmission and receipt. Not many computers are set up to do that.

        4. A meditation on our Lord’s words… “all things shall be revealed…” might help.

        5. I am quite troubled with the whole idea of ‘spiritual fathers’ in the first place. Such relationships are mindfields for abuse and manipulation sexually, emotionally and spiritually–especially if they are long distance and removed from one’s commuity. The foundation for the sucess of such relationships for the vast majority of lay people in the US simply does not exist at this time. Too little spiritual maturity. I have seen many lay people enter into such arrangements with nothing but narcisitic hubris which, unfortunately, is often met on the other end with equally narcisistic arrogance. Surpise: increasingly dysfunctinaly people is the result. Too often we think that the life of the Church is theraputic in a worldly and individual sense. While it can be, that is not the point. Living, or attempting to live, a life in accord with the teachings of the Church in comunity with the people of your local parish provides us, by the grace of God, what we need for our salvation: Prayer, worship, almsgiving, forgiveness and repentance.

        • Michael, I do not operate in some kind of dream world in which email is electronically sacrosanct. I understand that it can be compromised. I just think that the aspect of spiritual counsel adds an extra layer of moral wrongness to invading a priest’s email. Even with regular confession, there’s the possibility that someone can overhear something. Does this mean we should forgo the concept of confessional privacy? I had one of mine divulged by someone who should not have been a party to it, which was a very humiliating experience. If anything, this taught me that confessional privacy is a concern that everyone needs to take seriously.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Michael, Helga’s right on this one. I know of a priest who’s wife gives her confession over the phone to her spiritual father who is hundreds of miles away. When she is finished, she calls her husband into the room, and then kneels before him and he places the stole over her and reads the prayers of absolution.

            I don’t think you can validly do this electronically, but the expectation of privacy should be honored as well.

            Regardless, the fact that Mark is tied to the hip with the Perez Hilton of the OCA is enough to make people doubt his character.

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, the is a vast difference between a phone call and any digital means of communication. They don’t even compare in their ability to convey nuance, ambiguity and a whole host of other significant attitudes. Land-line is vastly different and better than a cell phone.

              • Jesse Cone says

                You really want to start comparing land-lines vs. cell-phones? THAT’s the issue here!?

                In this neck of the woods there are several parishioners who are seriously upset that their personal maters have probably been perused by…whomever. They will probably NEVER know if Mark Stokoe has read or will one day publish their most personal information, or that of their loved ones.

                But you want to preach to them about how they should have used a land-line since digital media doesn’t properly convey nuance!?

                The question on my mind is a practical one: What can be done now to give my parish, and others near to us, some peace and help restore trust? There are real tears… buckets of them.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Because it was a digression. Sorry to offend. The real point is that as long as there is an intemediary (any communication that is not in person and clearly alone), the integrity of the party to whom one confesses or reveals information is not enough to guarantee privacy.

                  To act in the digital world as if there is privacy is delusional. One has to expect that the information and identity is available to anyone who really wants to know.

                  So, we can work more diligently to live our lives in a way that nothing we do in private will bring shame to us or any one else or, expect it to be revealed at some point and learn to deal with such revelations. Perhaps a combination of both.

                  The fact that the discussion on stealing e-mails even exists within the Church is a digression in and of itself. A secondary issue that reveals the horrible lack of unity, peace, and integrity in all of us.

                  • Michael, I once visited a parish where confession was being heard even though there were plenty of people milling around. The confessor and the penitent were both speaking a bit too loudly to be covered by the person reading the hours. I sat in the corner and put my fingers in my ears until someone wisely turned on the air conditioner. The confession of mine that was breached happened because a third party approached too closely without me or the priest realizing. A “real life” conversation is not necessarily any more secure than an email exchange or a phone call.

                    Emails cannot constitute a sacramental confession, obviously, but I would expect people to be aware that they can contain sensitive pastoral exchanges, and treat a priest’s email as if they were in danger of overhearing a confession. Invading a priest’s email account shows a callous disregard for the well-being of his spiritual children. This should be a lesson for priests everywhere to choose strong passwords and to make sure they log out of their email accounts when they leave computers.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Helga, this conversation proves my major point (in addition to the privacy issue). E-mail is not adequate in any way to be part of the process of repentance except for the most extreme circumstance.

            Having details of counciling, consultations and confessions with priests revealed without one’s specific approval and consent is devastating to many people. It virtually destroyed the ability of my first wife to live in the Church with confidence and joy.

            Such communication should not be revealed without the knowledge and consent the principal party. Still, since all sin effects the entire community, whether we know the specifics or not, when it is revealed (on purpose or by accident), that gives us alternatives:

            If the person who revealed the communication did it for personal or professional gain of any kind, he should be defrocked and the appropriate penance applied as to his period away from the cup. If it was a lay person, he would be forever exclude from serving in an ordained capacity of any kind and serve the appropriate penance away from the cup. I don’t think there should be any pastoral variance. If +Mark has been providing such types of communication to Stokoe either while in the AOA or since, he needs to be removed for that reason and that reason alone. If Stokoe has been printing such infomation, knowing its source, he should be placed under penance and removed from the MC. Goes for anyone who has done similar things.

            Here is the problem, there is little appetite for application of canonical discipline in a consistent manner for any reason. If it is applied to all, the FOB’s (friends of the bishop) are usually exempt as are the politicians (secular or church) and money people. “Economia” (money rules) is the rule. The grunts may get it, but the elite rarely do. Might as well be Protestant or new age.

            If it was inadvetent, that is an entirely different thing. IMAO, there is no reason for a personal reaction of shame or guilt. I assume absolution has been given which my priests says: “Arise having no further care for the sins you have confessed….” there should be a personal apology and perhaps some additonal oversight with a temporary suspension of the chrism to hear confessions, but little more.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Antonia, I have a few good friends whose spiritual father is in Greece and they seek counsel from him constantly via e-mail. This is not Confession per se, nor is it represented as such, but I’m sure they’d be mortified if their e-mail was ever hacked.

      The bigger picture though is the fact that Bishop Mark sank to the level which he did. At first instance, he should have contacted Fr Joe and told him to back off and seek forgiveness. Then he should have gone to +Jonah. For the life of me, I don’t understand where MS fits into the chain of command.

      • For the life of me, I don’t understand where MS fits into the chain of command.

        Oh, he actually ranks above +Jonah now. It’s from the Super Secret Stokovite Synod Statutes. The chief authority in the Orthodox Church in America is our little Ober-Procurator from Ohio.

  14. A Remnant says

    Looks to me like Bishop Mark answered his own problem with the last Scriptural Quote

    Let us be sure to heed the words of St. Paul, realizing that sometimes there are in the flock, wolves in sheep’s clothing. In his letter to the Romans he writes, “I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissentions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded Romans 16: 17-18)”

    Just one of the simple-minded!

    • John Panos says

      Well said, A, but that would leave us cutting off contact with several of our bishops and Metropolitan Council members, and they know they have the power.

      We can only vote with our feet and our dollars.

    • Tiresias says

      Friends of mine serve in the Western Rite and I see that in the Western Rite Breviary Sunday’s Matins Gospel was the Good Shepherd versus the hireling; this morning’s is St. Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesians and, most exspecially, the elders among them appointed to serve as bishops in Acts 20:

      Acts 20:28-31 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [bishops], to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you [bishops? and priests?], not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves [the bishops to who Paul’s words are addressed] shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

      John 10:1-15 “He that entereth not by the Door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the Door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name [Let us not miss the intimate, personal and loving communion the stamp of which is marked on this relationship to which we are also called], and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. ” 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which He spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, “Amen. Amen. I say unto you, I am the Door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before Me [maybe not a chronological reference but a reference to the commandment: “Thou shalt have not other gods before Me”] are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly [Let us not miss the purpose and motivation of His coming, which must be ours as those entrusted with the apostolic witness]. 11 I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep [Let us note the utter humility and nuptial munificence which we are likewise called to imitate]. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep [Let us note again that it is the welfare of the sheep that is paramount]. 14 I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. [Would that our bishops so knew us, and we them. Why do we settle for less?] 15 As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.

      Food for thought, prayer and humble repentance–especially by those of us entrusted with holy orders. To whom much is given, much will be required.

      By the way, the guiding principle of Matt. 18:15 as with Matt. 5:24 (not to mention Lev. 19:17-18) is the complete reconciliation with one’s offended or offending brother. Peace-making, mutual repentance and “restitution” is the purpose of taking two or three witnesses, as also the “escalation” of an issue by “taking it to the ekklesia.” (I cannot agree means the bishop or the priest: our Lord speaking through St. Matthew could have said that if that is what He meant).

      The “Dispute Resolution Guidelines fall short when they say “we do not always have to disagree.” In the Body of Christ our goal must alway be complete agreement in all essential matters and love in all. In essentiis unitas, in dubiis libertas; in omnibus caritas.

      Our Lord has prayed that we should all be one as He and the Father are One. On Pentecost in A.D. 33 they were all together in one Place. Over and over the Acts tells us early on that they were all of one accord (i.e. of one heart and mind) and that they held all things in common. Let us strive to stop falling short. With God all things are possible and we can do all things through when we are weak that He may be strong and when were are willing to attempt and do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. To Him be all honour and glory now and forever and unto ages of ages.


  15. Joseph Clarke says

    I am reluctant to engage at all with the conspiracy theory being sketched on this website, but I would like to point out that the only piece of hard forensic “evidence” presented so far against Bishop Mark — the screenshots recently posted, ostensibly from Fr. Fester’s computer — contain a significant discrepancy. In the second image (, note that the date in the Gmail header does not match what is shown in the menu bar clock (Saturday).

    While I am not going to jump to the conclusion that Fr. Fester or somebody else faked the images, at a minimum this inconsistency should make them inadmissible as evidence, and should suggest that there’s a lot more to the story than has been revealed so far. It lends credence to Mark Stokoe’s claim that he received the e-mails prior to Friday, April 29. And it raises the distinct possibility that the alleged “hacking” and legal complaint are nothing but smokescreens, designed to distract attention from the e-mails’ content.

    • Heracleides says

      You’re not reading the data correctly. The gmail header shows the date Fr. Fester’s emails were forwarded by Bp. Mark to Stokoe. The “menu bar clock” is the time that the screen capture image (a ‘snapshot’) was taken (presumably by Fr. Fester). So – there is no discrepancy, significant or otherwise.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        Of course, and the comment you replied to goes to show how far some people are willing to go to try to deny what obviously has happened here.

      • Joseph Clarke says

        Take another look, Heracleides. The Gmail header reads “Apr 29 (2 days ago).” That would make the current date–the day the screenshot was taken–Sunday, May 1. But the menu bar identifies the day as Saturday.

        Can you explain this inconsistency?

        • The most straight-forward reason is the time difference between Dallas (where emails were forwarded from) and DC (where Fr Joseph captured images). As an example, I see you posted your comment on May 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm. But if I look at the my menu bar right now, it’s only 10: 13 am on May 11, 2011.

        • I can tell you that from my own Gmail it is slightly inconsistent with the number of days. In a recent series of e-mail conversations I had I have several e-mails that say “May 9 (2 Days Ago)” and then followed by 4 more from May 9th that say “May 9 (1 Day Ago)”
          Gmail isn’t totally precise. If I could attach an image here I would. Here is a link to how inconsistent Gmail is there:

          Notice: May 9 (1 Day Ago) May 9 (2 Days ago) and May 10 (1 day ago).

          • Joseph Clarke says

            Elijah, in the other screenshot posted from Fr. Fester’s computer ( the Gmail header also reads “Apr 29” (2 days ago) but the menu bar identifies the day as Sunday. In other words, the inconsistency here isn’t in Gmail; it’s in Fr. Fester’s menu bar clock.

            • Today is the 11th. My gmail says May 9th was one day ago. This is incorrect of course.
              It would be totally within the realm of “normal” for gmail to say Apr 19 (2 Days Ago) even if it is the 20th. The reason being that if the first message was forwarded in the morning of the 19th (or late late late night on the 18th technically the 19th) and you are looking at gmail on the evening/afternoon of the 20th two “days” have passed.

              its just not that suspicious. just a gmail oddity.

            • Heracleides says

              Actually, the gmail dates are the same – the gmail time-expired tracker information is not (given the menu dates). The time-expired tracker information is what Elijah is stating is not always accurate.


              It appears you are asserting that both snapshots were taken on Sunday, but that snapshot #2 was doctored with the menu date being altered to Saturday.

              Assuming that Fr. Fester does have the time/date set correctly on his laptop then the snapshots WERE taken on two different days. Why? Because if you’ll look at snapshot #2, it is Saturday 4:15pm and the battery charge on his laptop is at 100%

              Whereas in snapshot #1 it is Sunday 3:51pm and the battery charge is 99%.

              Following your assumption, I find it highly unlikely that in the space of 24 minutes Fr. Fester correctly took a snapshot, then looked up information on how to take a snapshot, and at the same time felt the need and made the effort to charge his laptop by 1% before taking a second snapshot.

              The more likely scenario is to simply go with the dates as given: On Saturday afternoon (with his laptop 100% charged) Fr. Fester looked up information on how to take a snapshot and then took one. On Sunday afternoon he then returned to his laptop (which was now down to a 99% charge) and took the second snapshot (note: he didn’t need the help file to do so the second time around).

              No convoluted conspiracy, no dark motives (actually, what would altering the menu date accomplish anyway?), no PhotoShop shenanigans, etc. Mrs. Stokoe was caught out in a lie (as was Bp. Mark in my estimation) – case closed.

        • Heracleides says

          I believe Fr. Fester was using his laptop when he took the snapshots. A likely explanation is that the date/time on his laptop was/is set incorrectly. If you’ll look closer at the snapshots, you’ll see that Fr. Fester was also looking for information on “How to do print screen in Mac” – a good indicator that he is not terribly proficient when it comes to operating computers (this does not even take into account his inadvertently leaving his gmail password cached on the Dallas computer when he was reassigned).

          Regardless – the gmail date (something which Fr. Fester could NOT alter as you seem to be suggesting) clearly shows when Bp. Mark forwarded the emails to Mrs. Stokoe, which was Friday (a clear contradiction of Mrs. Stokoe’s claim). As for admissibility – I’m quite sure the FBI investigator and any Federal Prosecutor will authenticate the data prior to any charges being filed.

          • Joseph Clarke says

            Heracleides, of course the Gmail header (along with any other component of the image) could have been altered, easily, with Photoshop or similar software. Screenshots are notoriously easy to fake, which makes them inherently dubious as evidence. But I’m not accusing Fr. Fester of anything, because I have no proof.

            My point is that for a screenshot to be used as evidence to accuse somebody else of something, the absolute minimum expectation should be that the image is internally consistent, which this screenshot isn’t. And without the screenshots, the “case” against Bishop Mark looks very thin indeed.

            • Heracleides says

              Oh, so now the gmail header was altered and not the menu date? Which is it? Pick a conspiracy and stick with it – no need to toss out a dozen or so to see if one sticks.

              • Joseph Clarke says

                So I’m a conspiracy theorist? Haha, as I said, I’m not accusing Fr. Fester of any wrongdoing here. The other commenters on this website are the ones making accusations. I’m pointing out that inconsistencies in these images make them questionable as “evidence” against Bp. Mark.

                • Heracleides says

                  There are no inconsistencies in the images when one is cognizant of the fact that the gmail time-expired tracker information is often inaccurate. But hey – why go for the most logical explaination when you want to see a conspiracy to frame poor Bp. Mark (I mean, honestly, what are the chances of an OCA bishop telling a lie – come on, get real – it could never happen!).

                • The only real evidence needed is the information that Google has regarding the IP addresses that accessed Fr. Fester’s account. Undoubtedly this has already been obtained from Google by Fr. Fester and is not being released anywhere because it is being preserved as tangible, and definitive, legal evidence of unauthorized access.

                  Gmail is persnickety in its “days ago” dating. The way around that is to click the “show details” button, which reveals the details on when the emails were actually forwarded. That, linked together with the IP address access information, is the main evidence in the case.

    • Bishop Mark admitted to multiple people last Sunday that he forwarded Father Joseph’s e-mails to the synod pertaining to his “interfering” in another diocese. What Mark Stokoe posted did include some of that but also considerably more, including the OCAT e-mails, his e-mails to the retired bishop ect…
      If what +Mark forwarded to the Synod was “only” what he said it was (people conspiring against him) and then someone on the synod “leaked” those e-mails to Stokoe then the number of e-mails Stokoe had would have been less (Remember Stokoe’s threat at the end of his last post “Next: Metropolitan Jonah in his own words”).

      Bishop Mark was probably truthful in that he did forward certain e-mails to the Synod. However, because of the history of working alongside/informing Stokoe its hard to believe that he wasn’t responsible for the rest of the stolen e-mails that were sent directly to Stokoe.

      To Summarize for those in the back of the class: Bishop Mark admitted to many people he had access to Father Joe’s e-mails, I have heard this from those people first hand. Stokoe has copies of Father Joe’s e-mails. Bishop Mark has sent Stokoe inside information in the past (so the story goes but it seems people are not disputing that). Putting the three together isn’t that hard.

  16. Pox on All Houses says

    Sayidna Philip saw the light and finally had Maymon pegged for what we beleaguered midwestern Antiochians saw in him.

    When Maymon was summarily disposed of last year, I had two thoughts:

    1. Don’t mess with the guy who has been on the job for 40 years – you’ll lose, even when you think you won; and

    2. That’s what you get when you take a seeker Pentecostal who got educated at Oral Roberts and make him an Orthodox bishop.

    I’m sure that when Maymon finds his next flock, he’ll be the most awesome and devout Mormon around, and will be slated for a position of great responsibility. Or will be the best Jehovah’s Witness, or best Buddhist, or best Hindu convert. Anyway, I’m sure there will be some religious entity and position of leadership that he’ll drift into – he always does.

    • John Panos says


      Your intellectual acumen is underwhelming.

      Whether or not Bishop Mark had proper catechizing was judged by Met. Phillip! Evidently it was Met. Phillip who made that mistake (according to your logic).

      I’m not a big Bishop Mark supporter, but your inability to reason and disrespect for the episcopacy is remarkable. Hence, I’m remarking.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        So Sayidna made an error in judgment – he trusted Maymon.

        +Metro Phil corrected his mistake, like a true leader does.

        As for my disrespect of Maymon’s episcopacy, we went through this on Stokoe’s site as Maymon was at the center of trashing +Metro Phil, and now he does the same to +Metro Jonah. I find it ironic that people are eager to play the Rodney King pearl-clutching “why can’t we get along” bit on his behalf, given his open disrespect and disobedience.

        Especially now that one ecclesiastic career is ruined, thanks to Maymon.

        You might also try asking yourself who would have had enough ambition to leak the SMPAC report, and see which set of lines that the connection of that trail of dots will depict.

    • Michael Bauman says


      A lot of pox to go around to be sure, but you missed a few things:

      As to your #1: It should read, “Don’t mess with an expert, duplicitous, power-hungry manipulator who has been on the job for 40 years–you’ll loose.” After all, in his own words Met. Philip will die when he wants to. Canonically your’re not supposed to mess with your ruling bishop at all unless it is to confront heresy or schism. Met. Philip is the bishop after all–just ask him. Seems Mark learned that quite well.

      #2. Met. Philip and the Antiochian Synod both approved Mark Maymon for elevation to the episcopate. Perhaps they got it wrong? Don’t they bear more than a little responsibility? Perhaps Met. Philip’s unhappiness with Mark has a more complete reality: Mark was neither a sycophantic loyalist, a competent politician, nor a man who has the capability to be a pastoral bishop and produce the fruits of such (examples of each amongst the remaining Antiochian bishops). However, your underlying assumption that Protestants simply are not worthy of the Church or high office in the Church is offensive, prejudiced, un-Christian and incredibly wrong. Your assertion is perfect example of why the Church in this country maintains the apperance of a grouping of incompetent ethnic mafias rather than the Church.

      Maybe we should just appoint some administators for a couple of years, put all of the bishops (without regard to jurisdiction) in the same monastary together, lock the doors and see who comes out alive (in the true sense)? Of course that would mean that the rest of us would actually have to learn the importance of prayer, forgiveness, almsgiving, worship and repentance in our own local parishes, so it probably wouldn’t work. Each of us would actually have to find new scapegoats (or give them up looking for them –what a concept) for the failure of our own spiritual lives. Ah, well so much for that idea, right?

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Met. Philip and the Antiochian Synod both approved Mark Maymon for elevation to the episcopate. Perhaps they got it wrong? Don’t they bear more than a little responsibility? Perhaps Met. Philip’s unhappiness with Mark has a more complete reality: Mark was neither a sycophantic loyalist, a competent politician, nor a man who has the capability to be a pastoral bishop and produce the fruits of such (examples of each amongst the remaining Antiochian bishops).

        There are some men who present well prior to obtaining power, but go off the rails in some way when obtaining it. My perception of Bp Mark is that he is one of those who, when handed the power he strived to obtain, abused it AND was feckless and incompetent in wielding it.

        However, your underlying assumption that Protestants simply are not worthy of the Church or high office in the Church is offensive, prejudiced, un-Christian and incredibly wrong. Your assertion is perfect example of why the Church in this country maintains the apperance of a grouping of incompetent ethnic mafias rather than the Church.

        My own path was very similar to Mark’s in terms of upbringing, except that when presented the ethnic enclave, I went native, as I’m very lay oriented. His religious cultural conditioning is not appropriate to leadership roles at the top of a hierarchially governed autocracy.

        Maybe we should just appoint some administators for a couple of years, put all of the bishops (without regard to jurisdiction) in the same monastary together, lock the doors and see who comes out alive (in the true sense)?

        Throw in a couple of full collection plates and a baseball bat, intersperse some hidden cameras and you’ve got the basis of a top rated reality show.

        • Harry Coin says

          Or, Bishop Mark found he could not ignore credible allegations of gross financial she-nan-i-gans where he was in Detroit. You’ll note that the AOA twisted itself beyond all recognition booting all diocesan bishops as a consequence. Seems rather a stretch to say that happened because Bishop Mark got it wrong. If he was indeed wrong on the facts then he would have simply been called on the carpet for it and dealt with personally.

          But. That didn’t happen. The narrative that fits the facts best is that he got it right, and they needed to find a future for him where being clear about the truth of matters wasn’t going to disturb financial operations. So, the OCA took him, and lo he gets assigned very nearly into the center of the storm, what a shock.

          Anyhow, I wish those who basically claim so many of these folk live in ways that mean you can’t hold church office just go produce credible allegations as has been done in Mark Stokoe’s case and then let the church officially clarify matters one way or the other, as the Gospel is clear about addressing appearances of impropriety, not only actual impropriety, among those in leadership roles.

          • Pox on All Houses says


            Seems rather a stretch to say that happened because Bishop Mark got it wrong. If he was indeed wrong on the facts then he would have simply been called on the carpet for it and dealt with personally.

            I assume +Metro Phil tried that, and the message wasn’t received. Besides, when was Mark right? The Michigan parishes hated him, Toledo boycotted its own conference, the cradles in Louisville loathed him, the folks in Indianapolis didn’t want him around, his handpicked boy in Terre Haute got openly ridiculous over the cassock idiocy in the risky assumption that his relationship with Mark would overcome the disobedience problem.

            Look what happened to everybody who made the mistake of coming into his orbit – they all experienced serious career problems. I suppose that this situation is new, because instead of destroying the career of somebody who he liked, this time it was the career of someone he hated, so that’s new. Perhaps it is an indication of greater savvy coming into play – Godzilla stops destroying his own lair and advances on Tokyo for a change.

            That isn’t about financial problems – that indicates a deep failure in leadership skills and indicates serious flaws in managing interpersonal relationships. If he wants to remain Orthodox, great – but I’d suggest that he be relegated to a subordinate position in a monastery.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Pox, or it is a combination of many complex problems coming into play at the same time.

              The financial problems and shenanigans of the folks in Troy are real. The only reason they’ve been allowed to continue is because the are FOP’s rather than FOM’s

              The priest in Terre Haute from other priests in other jurisdictions I know was not disobedient on the cassok matter.

              The former dean of the diocease was removed from his position without notice simply because he was dean under +Mark.

              Whatever else +Mark may be he does not appear to be the type of person who will tolerate anything that he considers to be disrespectful. He will not play nicey-nice. He will not play the feelings game. If he has been underhanded and acted in unethical ways himself, that is a problem.

              One thing you can’t do is absolve Met Philip and his leadership because of the defects in +Mark.

              Met. Philip is a very effective tribal chieftan who knows how to accure power and use it to his advantage. Whether he is an authentic Christian bishhop, God knows and will judge, but he is the bishop. We have to listen to what he says, if not follow what he does. Same with +Mark, and all of the other bishops.

              Hierarchy of not, it still comes down to us to discern and act in accord with the Gospels. The hierarchy is there to insure the Apostolic teaching and the communion of the Church, not to be right about everything; not to be nice. They are required to uphold the moral teachings of the Church however.

              The bishops are able to do what they do because we have been apathetic, both brain death and spiritually lazy. Of course, we have often been encouraged in that path (to me that’s what ‘going native’ means), but it does not mean we have to continue in that path.

              Obedience is a difficult thing that has nothing to do with being proper catechized intellectually. It has to do with becoming humble and being discipled by someone who is obedient themselves or by living in a community that is obedient.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            All: for what it’s worth, I never once approved of the machinations that +Philip took to remove +Mark as Bishop of Toledo. I thought then, and still do today, that the entire enterprise was underhanded and unjust. If +Mark was such a controversial bishop, then the HS of AOCNA should have convened a spiritual court. The ends don’t justify the means.

            The sad thing is that I was watching the career of Mark from even before then. He had come to the Faith while attending university in my hometown and had achieved high ecclesiastical rank. I thought he would be perfect for the OCA, esp. the DoS. I still think things could have been better for all concerned. Unfortunately, he fell in with the corrupt heart of darkness that exists in the OCA, which is centered around OCAN. He played their game, not realizing that the danger that lied in their byzantine machinations.

            I will pray for him tonite and even for those who hate our Primate.

      • Prospective Nomad says

        In evaluating the prudence (or lack thereof) of the Antiochian consecration of +MARK and his enthronement in Toledo, one must take account of the history.

        1) The See of Toledo was vacant by virtue of the forced retirement from U.S. ministry of +DEMETRI (Khoury). But for that heartbreaking series of events, +MARK would never have been assigned to Toledo and might not have been elected at all.

        2) The Synod of Antioch had just granted the Archdiocese “self-rule,” and the Archdiocese had promptly designated nine dioceses for a jurisdiction with a Metropolitan and three functioning auxiliary bishops. In the spirit of self-rule, it was decided that new bishops would be elected only from among the domestic celibate clergy (i.e. no imports). Keep in mind that the Archdiocese has no male monasteries. The bench wasn’t nearly deep enough to fill that many vacancies. Only three of the five vacancies were filled.

        3) Of the three bishops elected in 2004, only +MARK was not of Arabic descent. Why did +PHILIP assign him to the most Arabic diocese? (For OCA readers: The Antiochian debate over self-rule considered and rejected Diocesan Assemblies. All bishops are nominated by the Archdiocesan Convention. As a practical matter, +PHILIP decided who went where.) This is speculation on my part, but I believe that +PHILIP was sincerely trying to narrow the significant regional disparities that had grown up in the years following the reception of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC). On the one hand, he needed to bring convert parishes, concentrated in the South and West, into something resembling Syro-Byzantine liturgical practice. For years, there were parishes that sang Protestant praise songs for 45 minutes before the Liturgy instead of serving Orthros. Some parishes set Orthodox hymns to Protestant melodies. I personally visited a parish in which the priest started the Liturgy in the middle of the nave and didn’t enter the sanctuary until the Little Entrance, because some book had said that was how they did it in the second century. Other parishes decided they would create their own version of 19th-century Russia–and resisted any episcopal correction as “laxity,” or “modernism,” or “ethnocentrism,” or something. Miami and especially Los Angeles needed and got Arab bishops, and from the outside, it appears to have worked reasonably well.

        On the other hand, I believe that +PHILIP sincerely wanted to infuse the “legacy” parishes with the converts’ evangelical enthusiasm and praisewothy giving habits. Parishes in the Midwest needed to fulfill the Great Commission and support themselves more with parishioner contributions and less with Bingo and belly dancers. It wasn’t unreasonable to imagine that a convert could teach them. But +MARK wasn’t the right man for that job. That should have been foreseeable: He has no monastic formation and consequently proved to be too self-willed to hold the episcopal office without scattering the flock he was supposed to shepherd. He had more than a few goats in his flock, to be sure, but in the end he simply could not say, “Nevertheless, not my will…” when he needed to do so.

        Metropolitans pay a higher price for their mistakes than does anyone else in the Church. +JONAH is paying dearly for receiving +MARK into the OCA. What, exactly, was +PHILIP’s mistake, for which he has paid with years of turmoil? It’s more complicated than merely “approving” +MARK’s election. It’s partly not insisting that the EOC folks be properly catechized and their clergy properly trained. It’s partly opposing the foundation of monasteries that could have supplemented the ranks of the celibate parish clergy when self-rule brought the need for more home-grown bishops. It’s partly tolerating–and, yes, protecting–parochial financial misfeasance that any bishop would have struggled to uproot. And, yes, it’s partly failing to vet +MARK thoroughly enough. Now, the price for all of these mistakes is being paid in Dallas and Washington. May God forgive us all.

      • Ashley Nevins says


        Your analysis is excellent. It nails it on +Mark. I am sooo sure he was vetted by competent due diligence and just like all OCA bishops are.

        However, if you locked them all away in a monastery all by themselves the outcome would be the same as it is today. If monasticism is the solution you just ran out of solutions.

        Monasticism used as a basis of discipleship and leadership development is the development of leaders who only see the church as a closed, isolated and subjective structure and system of rule. Monasticism is self protection and if you understand self protection you will understand why monasticism is not risk for the Gospels that takes the church forward and not backwards.

        Let’s be objective. Monasticism has no Biblical basis or NT calling what-so-ever. It is a tradition of men. It’s basis is tradition and not the NT. That as leadership training and development will result in a tradition of men structure and system of church that leads it into closed, isolated and subjective failure. Yes, I know, I never win the Orthodox popularity contest. I don’t think Orthodox correct.

        Jesus was not the first elder nor were His disciples the first monastics. That is Biblical fact. Christ did not live out His ministry life living in a tree, sat down on a rock or living in an isolated cave out in the middle of no where. If monasticism is the role model and example of the ministry of Christ in the Gospels to your church then your church will have that as an outcome as its mission and evangelism. I see the practical real world bishop ministry outcome by way of monasticism as its discipleship and leadership development.

        Monasticism that is the dicipleship and training of church leadership will not result in a church that is alive, relevant, dynamic and growing. It will not result in a mission and evangelism basis of church outreach that reaches outside of itself as the church priority. It will only close the church and not open the church for monaticism being a closed system by structure and system and by how it THINKS.

        My best proof this is true is the EOC outcome. I don’t make the proof up. I can see it with my own rational driver analytical Christian mind of reason that can think for itself without what is closed, isolated and subjective church thinking for me. I am open Christ think and not closed monastic think. I am open think and not closed stop think. Again, how a church thinks determines its outcome in the practical reality of the real world where the ministry of Christ really lives.

        How a church thinks is the outcome of a church. If monasticism thinks for your church its thinking will be the outcome of the EOC. The outcome will be a closed, isolated and subjective way of thinking and that will only lead a church into failure over time by closing it.

        And, Mike I FULLY understand what monasticism is. I can tell you stories of my personal experience with it. I am not an ignorant or inexperienced heretic to Orthodox monasticism.

        For instance, I know for a FACT that 20 GOA monasteries under Elder Ephraim have not lead the GOA after a generation of the elder among them into a relevant state of church to our generation. I know this FACT by the outcome of the GOA under the leadership of its bishops and elder. All monastically discipled and leadership trained.

        If the mind of something that has no NT basis rules in the church what is the practical realtiy of the real world outcome of that church expected to be? What, Orthodox, outcomes don’t prove basis cause of outcome? If you think that your church is truly OVER. That is like believing Fascist thinking does does not have an outcome that can be seen from the basis of its thinking. I believe the world has seen the outcome of that thinking. Do all of you think for yourselves think so too?

        Ephraimite bishops in rule in the GOA will turn the GOA into what? They will turn it into the relevancy of Christ to our generation or the self destruction of the GOA by a cult? What is the outcome of the GOA by way of its bishops and monastics? The outcome is that it is the largest church of corruption in EO America. Pull the covers back on this church leadership and it will make the OCA leadership look God like in comparison. If they ever try to become independent of foreign rule it will all be exposed and just like that has exposed the OCA.

        Connect the dots Orthodox.

        I call connecting the dots thinking for yourself without monasticism thinking for you.

        Good day to you, Orthodox.

        Ashley Nevins
        Heretic to Orthodoxy

        PS: Lol, I was once called Spawn of Satan by an ephramite.

        • William Harrington says

          I think you need less self thinking and more history. There are reasons that the Orthodox Churches (not all of them) have turned inward, but if it were monastic bishops then you can not explain the fact of Orthodoxy’s expansion through the Balkans, into Russia, across Asia and into North America. Your argument is flawed. Try again please. Its good that you are thinking but more learning is needed. Begin with the concept that not all Traditions are traditions of men. Scripture tells us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth. If you hold the scriptures to be true then you MUST accept that at least some of the Traditions of the Church are truly Traditions from God. The alternative is to simply pick and choose what scriptures you accept. With due apologies and respect to Stan the Man, ‘Nuff said.

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          On the other hand…

          …there are monasteries where the light of Christ burns brightly. When I was running Spiritual Odyssey there were always some young people (college age mostly) who had great difficultly finding Christ. The reasons were numerous but basically it came down to great difficulties with trust mostly because of traumatic experiences in their histories. To paraphrase John, if you can’t trust man who you can see, how can you trust God who you cannot see?

          Miracles would happen when we visited a monastery called Osios Lukas. The people have difficulty finding God would encounter him there is profound ways. After I while I came rely on it.

          You can read about it here.

          Monasteries are like parishes. A lot depends on leadership and the character of the people who are involved with them.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Ashley Nevins
          Heretic to Orthodoxy

          PS: Lol, I was once called Spawn of Satan by an ephramite.

          Ashley, if you approached someone personally with the same type of anger, venom, and verbose histronics you display in your posts, I could see that happening. Not right, but certainly not something beyond the realm of a common human response. I am sure the man felt threatened, demonized himself and dehumanized; especially since, based on previous interactions here, no repentance other than death (of the Church and monasticism) seems to be enough to satisfy you.

      • Christopher says

        the Church in this country maintains the apperance of a grouping of incompetent ethnic mafias

        “apperance”? It’s more than that…

  17. Ashley Nevins says

    Romans chapter one is the state of the OCA. Mark is at the center of it and his bishop minions are enabling him. OCA News is the defacto Met. ruling over the church. The Orthodox award winning website gets the award for being as circular without solution by corruption as is the entire OCA.

    Along with the award comes a prize to Marks winning side. The grand prize won is the OCA. I cannot think of a better prize won for Marks side. When his side removes Jonah, and it will remove him, the entire church, what’s left of it, will get to see what kind of Met that Stokoe makes for the church.

    This is the truth of Marks defacto Met rule over the church now:

    1. Ethical conflict of interest by being both OCA News and on the MC.
    2. Moral conflict of interest by being in direct contradition to the church moral standards by living a homsexual lifestyle.

    Ethical and moral contradictions is what caused the church problems that Mark originally confronted and now he is what he confronted. He always was by spiritual maturity and character. The expose’ has exposed him for what kind of leader he really is. It also reveals what kind of leadership ALL the bishops, including Jonah, provide the church. It is incompetent, hypocritical and corrupt. It is spiritually immature and seriously lacking the character of God the Holy Spirit. The bishops are the product of the power and control that discipled them and developed them into leaders of the church. They are the logical outcome what developed them. It only makes sense that they are.

    Now, it is my sincere hope that sense that is common has not been lost by the Orthodox laity men of God. Your sense will determine the outcome of the OCA.

    Have any of you ever heard of the concept of circular without solution by the solution provided being the problem itself? That is the outcome seen here by the solution provided. This is the result of the church not thinking for itself and by it allowing someone or something else to think for it. It exposes why and how the church really thinks. How you think determines your outcome of church. It is ethier a thinking for yourselves outcome or it is a someone or something else is thinking for you outcome. Which outcome is the OCA? I would say ethical and moral contradictions are thinking for all of you. I have the proof. The proof is the outcome of the OCA. Do you deny my proof?

    Stokoe and his bishop minions rule! Is their rule any different than the rule that what Mark originally confronted? That is someone or something else thinking for all of you and that will be your end. NOTHING has changed and nothing is going to change as long as all of you let such men think for you.

    Yes, follow Hopko right over the cliff. What is his sexual history in the church? You repect what you can inspect and you trust only what you can verify. That did not happen with Mark. Is it also happening with Hopko too? I really don’t know, but it only makse SENSE to ask considering what is going on with those who lead in this church and after all that has been exposed about them. Does Hopko believe that a man living in a gay lifestyle is a leader to follow? Apparently the bishops and MC do, and so why not Hopko too?

    This is like the idea of follow the money. In this case it is follow the sexual corruption. Maybe Pokrov can answer that question about Hopko? Has anyone asked Cappy or Mel if they know what his history in this way is? Are all of you afraid of their potential answer? It’s called due diligence and vetting those who speak as authority in the church. Simple.

    Common sense tells us to look before we leap. How hard is that one?

    In a power and control structure and system of church the solution to serious problems is not a spiritual solution. It is a power and control religious political solution by men in conflict with other men for power and control. Who has the most power wins. It is not about integrity and crediability by way of spiritual maturity in character. The character of the power and control based church is power that controls to its power and control end. It comes to its so called solution by unethical and/or immoral thinking and behavior. It is not based in humility and service to solution that would be ethical and moral solution.

    Do any of you see this unethical and immoral going on right now in the OCA? It is the ethics and morality of power and control that believes itself to be GOD! The idol is in power and control and not the true Christ of the Gospels. Laity men of God you keep providing yourselves with this as your solution and you then stand around and wonder what is going on?

    All those without the power to control are made pawns to the power and control. They are manipulated by sides of TOXIC power and control in religious politics of power and control. That manipulation only ends up in a spiritually abused and spiritually abandoned church. Do you deny my reasoning here that it does? Is the OCA safe and healthy to itself or is it dangerous and toxic to itself?

    I ask the hard questions to cause you to think for yourselves. I take no pleasure in this. Looking into what is dangerous and toxic to itself is not fun, but it is necessary if a church wants to find solution. You will only find solution by being honest about the cause of the corrupt church failure. It is the truth that will set you free from the lie believed that is killing your EOC. If you do not go to cause your church will die. You are not going to cause and your EOC is dying. Yes, it is too dying. It is made irrlevant insignificance by power and control mind control that mind controls it into this state of church mind. The mind of a church determines the outcome of the church. What is the Orthodox Mind of church resulting in as a state of church mind outcome?

    The Sanhedrin was power and control based. Christ is humility and service based. The Sanhedrin found a religious political solution to Christ. Did it or did it not???

    Power and control murdered Christ in the Gospels. It will murder the OCA in the end.

    Power and control is the basis of the corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state of all EO jurisdictions in America. The only solution to this is a change from a power and control basis of church to a humility and service basis of church. The only way to accomplish that is to change the structure and system of authority from rule power and control of man to the Lordship of Christ in humility and service by structure and system of church. Oh, but you disagree and believe humility and service is the basis of the EOC rule. What outcome of that do you have for proof? Is it the state of your two largest jursidictions, the OCA and the GOA?

    I believe proof and I do not believe claim. You claim to be Gods only alone right and one true church. Prove it by your proof of outcome. That is the only proof that matters or counts in the realtiy of the real world where Christ really lives. Christ lived his claim and that proved His claim true. He asked the Sanhedrin for their proof in claim that they made. What did their proof show? Your church is not the comparsion of all churches not of you are to be compared against and all of you believe that you are. You are not Jesus Christ the only comparison. If you are then Christianity is most certainly doomed. Any church that follows your role model and example of church over Christ in the Gospels as church is a church that will surely DIE.

    The idol is not the comparison of other churches to it. Get it? Yes, Orthodox compare the OCA to the Calavary Chapel church mission and evangelism explosion. Please, do. I can’t wait to hear your Orthodox Mind reasoning as to why they succeed and you fail. Heresy to Orthodoxy is more relevant than Orthodoxy that is not heretic to itself by its state of church? Do I ask thinking for yourself questions or what!?! Yes, all those Calavary Chapel folks don’t know what they are Orthodox missing by not being OCA converts to the EOC. They don’t have the FULL Gospel and truth in claim that only your church has. I see the outcome of your full Gospel and truth in claim. Do any of you?

    Christ as church is a living, safe, healthy, relevant, dynamic and transformed church by outcome. That is not an idol and its claim to be compared against. It is Christ as the ONLY true comparison. The idolatry church is the church of corrupt failure that has only the idol as its solution to its corrupt failure. It is so mind controlled by the idol it believes its corrupt church failure is the comparison of all outside of it to it. Idol worship will make you as delusional as the idol. You will idol think and not Christ think and that leads to corrupt church failure by how you THINK.

    Delusion leads to corrupt church failure and delusion is not the solution to the delusional corrupt church failure. It will only make it more delusional and more corrupt and failed.

    Power and control will not allow the EO to paradigm shift the structure and system of their church from power and control to humility and service. If the power and control did it would loose it is dictatorship of top down rule power and control. Power and control of the Sanhedrin would not allow it paradigm shift to Christ. Get it?

    Yes, OCA men of God, I got this wrong because I am not the Orthodox Mind of power and control that manipulates the church into its murder at the hands of power and control. That power and control results in three general or basic kinds of church outcome:

    1. The power and control renders the church powerless making it apathetic and indifferent.
    2. The power and control renders the church spiritually abused and spiritually abandoned.
    3. The power and control only offers only power and control as the solution to its state of church.

    Those three outcomes are the murder of the church by power and control. Shocking, it is not? Power and control indoctrination that is the mind control of power and control does not tell anyone under the mind control of power and control that these are the outcomes of a power and control structure and system. Yet, anyone with rational mind thinking that thinks for itself can clearly see these three outcomes of the power and control based church.

    I came up with these conclusions by thinking western rational Christian reasoning that comes to logical conclusions that can be objectively seen as the evidence of my proof in the reality of the real Christian world that exists outside of the power and control unreality of the Orthodox world. Power and control are not the indoctrination of my mind into the mind control of power and control. Those under the mind control of power and control are the last ones to realize that they are under that mind control. I call this the subtle power of power and control mind control.

    Here is something that the Orthodox are going to find troubling to read. Power and control mind control destroys the mind it controls and that destroys the church. It destroys the minds ability to think for itself to solution. Power and control can be the only solution in a church based upon power and control and that is mind control that destroys the mind, destroys the solution and destroys the church. Do you see the process of order that the destruction by mind control takes? Do you see this going on in the self destruction of the OCA? Are you having a difficult time with my rational reasoning here that leads me to these conclusions? Can you see my western rational Christian reason and logic showing through? I am I talking truth, lie or heresy here? Well, which one is it???

    Something that the EO will find shocking is that Christ confronted a top down authoritarian structure and system of power and control that was a cult. The basis of the cult He confronted is power and control by structure and system, tradition and orthodoxy. Christ contronted a tradition and orthodox based cult of power and control by its structure and system of authority. Do they teach this in the modernity and freedom of religion EOC that is Gods only one true church of right relevancy to our generation?

    The cult Christ confronted believed it was Gods only alone right and one true structure and system of authority, theology and salvation. He confronted the logical end result of what those premises of organization resulted in as the corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state of the Sanhedrin. He confronted the outcome of their mind controlled thinking. Oh, yes, He did too.

    Do you know why Jesus was so sarscastic and confronting of the power and control mind control of the Sanhedrin? Can you see the power and control of mind control in control of those He confronted? Did they realize they were under that kind of mind control by power and control?

    The answer to the questions is obvious. The more you are power and controlled based the more you believe that is what God is based in. That is mind control not seen by those under it. Christ is humility and service based and that is what breaks the mind control of power and control by paradigm shifting away from that as a structure and system of authority. The more power and control centered the church the more right it believes it is. The more it believes this the more proud, self righteous and arrogant it becomes by its belief it is Gods only right truth by its power and control.

    Power and control create a church that is closed, isolated and subjective and that is right about itself. It does not have the objectivity of humility and service to see the mind control it is really under. Christ was objective about the power and control He confronted. It’s reaction to Him was a closed, isolated and subjective reaction of power and control. It was a self centered, self protective and self sufficient reaction of we are Gods only true and right by our power and control that make us right.

    The more power and control centered the more right the power and control believes it is. That is might makes right by power and control and that is pure mind control of those under that structure and system of thinking or mind set. It is TOTALISM and totalism is mind control. Those under this mind control do not see how deeply that power and control mind control them by its indoctrination that claims itself more right than anything or anyone. That power and control cannot objectively see itself as it really is nor can it listen to what it told what it truly is. It is right and you are wrong if you call it for what it really is. That is Sanhedrin like thinking that was their self destruction by their mind control over their own self destruction.

    I just nailed it and it ain’t pretty, is it? The truth is not always pretty, but it is real. What Christ confronted believed itself beautiful by how right and true it believed itself to be. It was delusional about itself by power and control mind control ruling over it. Their delusional state of image was highly image conscious and that made it a lying, covering up, secretitive and spinning of itself to self protect its image of itself. The most right are the most beautiful of them all. Sound at all familiar?

    Mirror, mirrow on the Orthodx wall which church is the most beautiful of them all?

    Sarcasm is anger at what will not listen or change and what will not change is power and control that believes itself right by its power and control. It believes it is right and therefore it really believes it is God. The SARCASTIC confrontation of Christ was a confrontation that told the power and control it was neither right or of God. The power and control He confronted had become so right in its belief about itself by its power and control it believed it was Gods only salvation for it really believing it was God. Christ confronted a CULT and cults are mind control by power and control that believes the cult is right over all outside of it.

    Christ confronted the idol of false salvation by works theology, dead tradition and authoritarian power and control structure and system. Can any of you see how a power and control basis of authority results in a church characterized by these things? Can a church under this kind of power and control mind control find solution through its power and control that is mind control?

    Connect the dots Orthodox.

    I am scary for an Orthodox to read. I understand the mind control of power and control that believes itself to be Gods only true and right salvation and church. I see right through the self destruction of the church by power and control mind control. Of course, that mind control believes I got it all wrong about its power and control and its mind control by its power and control.

    I have just explained why it believes me wrong by the closed, isolated and subjective mind of power and control mind control. To the Orthodox Mind, that is the mind under the mind control of power and control, I still have it all wrong no matter what evidence of that mind control is provided. The reaction or response to that expose’ is highly similar to what Christ got from those under power and control mind control that He confronted. I know exactly what many or you are thinking and reacting as you read this. Mind control by power and control is a highly predictable mind.

    Orthodox, either your paradigm shift to humilty and service as a structure and system of church or you will die by power and control mind control. I promise, and all of my promises to the EO come true. All of them. Yes, I know, the power and control mind control disagrees with me on this predicted outcome of church. The prediction is true today. It is not your future. It is the state of the EOC today.

    Power and control mind control has the power and control over all of your minds to lead you into denial of what that power and control mind control is really doing to all of you and your church. Power and control mind control is the denial that Christ confronted in the Gospels. He confronted a cult of power and control mind control that was in denial of itself by its power and control mind control.

    Do you know why the OCA men of God laity are really powerless to stop the destruction of the OCA?

    The answer to the question is simple. Power and control mind control by a power and control structure and system of church authority make them powerless. Laity mind control by hierarchy power and control is the end of the OCA. Power and control mind control renders you powerless to stop the mind control killing the OCA. The entire system of church is made sick by this mind control and that includes the laity. Mark is the laity response to the corruption of hierarchy power and control that destroys the church. Is he not found out now to be the same as what he confronted? Mark is the laity poster child of the structure and system of corruption that is all of you being corrupted by the sysetm of corruption. Oh, yes, I know, the Orthodox disagree that is mind control by power and control destroying them and their church with them. No proof is good enough for those under the power and control of power and control mind control.

    The humilty and service of Jesus Christ is confronting the power and control of the EOC and not a one of you understands the confrontation by being under the mind control of power and control. Christ has paradigm shifted past you and left you in the state you are truly in. He did the same with the Sanhedrin. Those He confronted did not see or understand the paradigm shift taking place right before their eyes. Mind control by power and control binded them to see and understand.

    They had no way of escaping their structure and sysetm of power and control other than through Christ. Any place you went in the structure and system He confronted you found the same corruption and failure. That is the true state of the EOC. It has no way of escape.

    Paradigm shift is solution to what Jesus left behind Him and if you do not paradigm shift you will end up like what He confronted and left behind. You will end up a corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying church that has no solution. That is what Christ left behind Him in the Gospels. He leaves the same behind Him still today. I got the proof that He does. Do you know who that proof is?

    Ashley Nevins

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ashley, so nice to see that you have attened a writing course and have finally become able to convey your thought (it is just one thought after all) in a simple, direct, concise manner.

      Between the two posts amost 5000 words that say, if I may translate: Orthodox bad, evil, sick, profane. Heard you after the first 10,000 or so times you’ve posted it here. I understand, I don’t agree, not interested in hearing it again.

      • Harry Coin says

        For what little it’s worth, had the people involved used their names from the jump, the credibility of the arguments would have increased to the point there might very well been a different outcome.

        For instance, one example: Hard to imagine a bishop so disliked the subdeacons wouldn’t vest him. When a person reads that by an anonymous party, the tendency is just to ignore it. But had there been names, dates, and a place, contact information– folk would have noticed and checked.

        Lots of little examples like that.

        A new website filled with organized facts people can check, letting people decide what they want to think on their own, that could still make an important difference.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Harry, you’re becoming a Johnny One-note on the anonymity thing. Nothing that the OCAT’s said, wrote, or expressed has ever been disputed. Words mean things Harry, whether you, me or the guy behind the tree sez them. Either they’re true or they ain’t.

          Me and others have caught MS in a prevarication, half-truth, or untruth. Several times. The issue is not Fester’s e-mails but that they were illicitly gotten. That and that the OCA is now governed like the old Politburo.

          Real recipe for growth that, Harry. Wanna join us?

          • Harry Coin says

            George, I get you like the anonymity thing. I ask you, how well did it go for your cause these last few weeks? Do the same thing going forward if you like the previous result.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Harry, I don’t “like” or “dislike” anonymity. It’s morally neutral. Many good things came out of this, including the truth. But let’s be honest: the fix was in the from the start. The whole anonymity skirmish was nothing but a sideshow. It had nothing to do with this at all.

              What consolidated the power of the Stokovites was two things: 1) the upper reaches of the OCA is morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt, and 2) Mark Maymon had accessed Fester’s e-mails which Stokoe used to blindside +Jonah. Of course, one could say that #2 is merely a subset of #1. Regardless, I’m surprised that you can’t see that.

              But, I may be wrong. I’d like to issue a challenge to everybody who reads this blog: was the anonymity of the OCATs harmful to the cause, helpful to the cause, or indifferent?

              • Topheropolis says

                I’d like to issue a challenge to everybody who reads this blog: was the anonymity of the OCATs harmful to the cause, helpful to the cause, or indifferent?

                As a completely neutral observer, I think OCAT’s anonymity was, from a public relations standpoint, harmful to the cause. To be clear, OCAT’s anonymity didn’t change the veracity of their arguments. But I think anonymity makes arguments harder to trust. This can be abated if an anonymous writer has a long history with readers. But OCAT just sprung up seemingly out of nowhere and posted a ton of material in a couple months. Regardless of reality, it looked like a shill job. Then with the revelation of their identities and their relationship to the party they were defending, it looked even more like a dishonest venture.

                Obviously, the anonymous aspect didn’t sway the true believers on either side. But to those trying to decipher which side to trust, the anonymous aspect can be a factor. Casual observers who aren’t terribly vested with either side probably don’t have time or don’t bother to carefully parse through every fact/argument from both sides. So when one side is anonymous, and when their identities are revealed they are shown to be friends of the side they are defending, it creates the appearance of a coordinated effort to spin facts. Again, I’m not saying that OCAT was a fact spinning venture, I’m just saying that to those who don’t follow and parse through every OCA development, appearances matter.

                Would the writers have garnered greater trust if they had been open about their identities? I don’t know, because I don’t know the level of trust Dreher and Cone have within the OCA community. But I don’t think it would have hurt. Also, it would have given the opposing side less of a stick to bludgeon OCAT. Furthermore, if OCAT had been open about their identities from the beginning, OCAT probably would have been a voice reporting/advocating on the story, instead of part OF the story.

                Anyway, that’s my take. Your mileage may vary.

              • Jesse Cone says


                We always thought it was harmful to the cause inasmuch as it hurt our credibility. We made the decision, and all that people need to know is that it was only the OCAT fellas that made that decision and we made it for our own personal reasons. We were never trying to control things, or be some great bastion of pro-Jonah sentiment: we just wanted to air an opinions/ facts/ logic that sufficates over at OCAN.

                The fact that Stokoe did not disagree with us or engage us in conversation is telling. Instead he insists on writing us off and making ad hominem attacks on some of our associations. His obsession with who we are has hurt him and will hurt him more in the future. I think now he only writes for an audience of hierarchs and FOB’s…the same ones he knows and went to seminary with.

    • Elizabeth says


      Your message to us about humility and service is important . Thank you for your concern about the about the survival of the OCA.

      :long sigh: Please realize that not everything immoral or unethical is the result of a cult. You, of all individuals, know that cults only serve their narcissistic leaders’ desires. The OCA has made and will continue to make significant Christian contributions throughout our continent and others. The OCA and the Eastern Orthodox Church are clearly not cults.

      There are some lazy, uninformed, and/or elderly individuals in the OCA that may never question the leadership of the Church because they don’t like change or they don’t realize that change is necessary. This does not mean that these individuals are “brain washed”. There are no “mind control” activities being forced upon the parishioners in the OCA. MS’s propaganda machina is not controlling our Church. It is only an annoying blog which initiates conflict. It can easily be avoided by making the choice to not to read it.

      • Ashley Nevins says

        I hope what you believe you are telling me is truth. The OCA are spiritually abused and spiritually abandoned Christians by this never ending circular without solution state of church. That is not Christ come to us in the Gospels. You may disagree with many things I tell you, but you do not disagree with all that I tell you.

        The proof of my truth told to you will be the outcome of the church. The wrong I have told you will be made real to me by the outcome of your church. In other words, you have two potential outcomes. I hope I am wrong. You are people made in the image of God and whose very lives were paid for by Christ dying horrifically on the Cross.

        The worth and value of everyone of you to God is that price paid for you by God. Live up to the price paid for you and your outcome will not be what I predict it to be and for the reasons I give. Live up to the worth and value God the Holy Spirit has for you and you will translate that into church safety, health, relevancy and life. I promise and all of my promises to the EO come true. All of them.

        You are of great worth and value to God and so treat each others worth and value as God does. Know who that you are IN CHRIST by your identity in Christ who is your only salvation. If you do not come into the Christian mature spiritual realization of your true worth and value in identity in God the Father my concern is that your church will surely die.

        You will treat each other and Gods church by how you see your worth and value to God. Your identity in Christ will determine your outcome more than anything else I tell you.

        Please, all of you who disgree with me prove me wrong by changing the outcome of the EOC in America. You do not have much time left. From my perspective it is over. That does not mean it is over if you understand your true identity by worth and value to God and apply that to what tries to destroy your worth, value and identity in God.

        Your worth, value and identity in God will either provide solution or it will destroy your church.

        What destroys your church tries to destroy your worth, value and identity in God. Satan is shaming the EOC right out of existence. Shame is the destruction of the OCA. It destroys your worth, value, meaning, purpose and IDENTITY in the price paid for all of you on the CROSS.

        Do you know the name of the destroyer who destroys your worth, value and identity in God? It for sure is not the one who RESURRECTS us up to the value and worth of God. The destroyer is the one who pushes us down into his sin that is his identity and that destroys Gods church identity IN CHRIST like nothing else can.

        This is spiritual warfare against your worth, value and identity in God. If the evil one can destroy that he can destroy the OCA, and the EOC right along with it.

        I argue tough love for you and it ain’t nice, is it? It is in your faces. Your worth and value to God is worth the risk I take to tell you like it is or your church will surely die. Most of you think I am against you. You have me all wrong. Thinking for yourself is not against you. It is for you. Only those who cannot think for themselves believe thinking for yourself is against them.

        Your outcome of church is how you think and how you think is your identity, worth and value in God alone and nothing else. If it is in anything else that idol will destroy your church. That only makes sense, and I hope that sense that is common has not been lost by the Orthodox or your church most surely will die.

        I am not easy to hear am I? I talk the shame of the evil one vs. your worth, value and identity in Christ your salvation. I talk one is destruction and one is solution and that you have a clear choice as a church which one all of you will follow. I see the identity outcome of your salvation by the state of your church.

        Yes, I know some still think I am against the church and not for it and I know why that they do still think that. I have outlined why several times in several different posts.

        Now, I got to go cook dinner and so I rest my case made for your church.

        Ashley Nevins

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Ashley wrote:

      Romans chapter one is the state of the OCA. Mark is at the center of it and his bishop minions are enabling him. OCA News is the defacto Met. ruling over the church. The Orthodox award winning website gets the award for being as circular without solution by corruption as is the entire OCA.

      Along with the award comes a prize to Marks winning side. The grand prize won is the OCA. I cannot think of a better prize won for Marks side. When his side removes Jonah, and it will remove him, the entire church, what’s left of it, will get to see what kind of Met that Stokoe makes for the church.

      Ignoring a quibble here and there and not commenting to the rest of Ashley’s post, note with care what he is saying above. He’s right.

      Stokoe is acting as the de-facto metropolitan of the OCA and the prize is the OCA. Harsh but true. How do you think +Mark made such a grievous error, one that most likely will cost him his bishopric? No excuse for +Mark implied here. But men don’t usually make such incomprehensible blunders unless there are other voices whispering in their ear.

      Ashely is also right that Stokoe’s continued place of leadership points to a malignancy of which Stokoe is only a part. George M. made the same point above:

      [C]an anyone explain why homosexual alliances such as Burke and his live-in boyfriend in Miami is verboten, but Mark Stokoe’s alliance is not?

      [C]an we really say that the corruption of the previous decades has been swept clean?

      The answer is clear: No, it has not. It continues forward in the same way it always did.

      I’m not so sure Ashley’s prediction (“When his side removes Jonah, and it will remove him”) will come to pass. True, Mark Stokoe won’t rest until +Jonah is gone, but a recovery of the gospel can circumvent this.

      It’s time the priests woke up.

      • John Panos says

        But Fr. Hans,

        They’ve gutted the priesthood of any real leadership, making sure that the deans and chancellors (no offense) are ‘status quo’ guys who would not rock the boat when the corruption was blatant before them.

        And these same men were scathing to the watchmen priests who brought light to it.

        Even Archbishop Job, of blessed memory, took years to get on board with just asking one question, and they almost flayed him alive for it!

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          Good points John. I known some really good priests, smart, creative, faithful, bold, who had great ideas and initiatives that were shut down not on the basis of their work, but that their vibrancy and vision threatened to reveal how mediocre some things really are. Then, when they regrouped and gave it another shot, they were pounded down even harder.

          That’s how I read this entire email imbroglio. The man who had his emails hacked/stolen/borrowed whatever, loses his job. The guy who passed them off to a blogger still has his job. The blogger who took them prances about telling everyone he did a public service.

          It’s all backwards.

          And what about all the people whose private conversations were violated? Don’t they count?

          So am I supposed to pretend that this reflects sobriety, balance, maturity, and good judgement? Remove the religious patina that gets splashed over circumstances like this and what you see is a sordid mess.

          • Harry Coin says

            Fr. Hans: Of course those people count.

            The force that Mark directed here was turning light in selective dark places. If there was nothing for that light to reveal no events would have followed. The same can be said of the POKROV team. They are effective because of the light they shine on a truth many would prefer to leave uncorrected and unseen.

            That light in dark places is a powerful force, those complaining here on this website at heart are complaining about a selective direction of that force.

            There is no monopoly, anyone who wants to be careful can choose where they wish to shine light. Look at how it is done– with care, attention to detail, accuracy, responsibility, few if any opinions, lots of facts people can check.

            However anonymity is the antithesis of ‘shining light’ and that’s why the false start here. It’s only a stumble, a do-over is possible.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              POKROV never publishes any leaked information. Their work is always above board. That’s what makes them such a formidable (and credible) force.

              • Harry Coin says

                I agree. However there is something of a fine line between ‘leaking’ and linking to an article describing an event (viz: how did that reporter get their info?). I think the basic test is (re)publishing only those facts people who care to could check. If there is no way to link the story back to facts that can be checked then the article has to quote sources by name.

                What makes them formidable I think has only to do with the events there for them to report. They didn’t make them up, if there was nothing along those lines happening then there would be nothing for them to do (and I think if that day comes they would celebrate)

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  Well, yes, but…

                  What makes POKROV formidable is that their referent that gives the events their correct meaning is drawn from outside the institution, in this case court reports, and so forth. By referencing an authority outside of the institution, the events are freed of the interpretive grid that will twist them into something other than they are.

                  Institutional thinking in other words, becomes toxic when it becomes self-referencing, when the meaning of events reference only the interpretive paradigm of a closed institution. The sign an institution is closed is when illicit activities (homosexuality, theft, abuse of people, etc.) takes place without redress.

                  This is also where we find the concrete distinction between POKROV and OCANews (and why POKROV never has to leak). Stokoe in other words, is as bound to the dominant paradigm as the actors he ostensibly exposes. Stokoe merely emphasizes different dynamics within that same paradigm.

                  This is also why the question about Stokoe’s sexual choices is relevant. Homosexuality is inherently toxic (destructive of the person). If a leader is homosexual then the institution he leads will invariably become toxic as well. This is unavoidable. Stokoe has elevated himself as a leader (he is a self-declared and self-styled reformer).

                  Thus, it is appropriate to ask him about homosexuality as it would be to ask a married man seen with other women about adultery. If he had not chosen to present himself as a leader, the questions about his private choices would be handled in a different way.

                  People will be angry with me that I wrote this. But this anger reveals that they have already inculcated the moral relativism upon which the toxicity flourishes. If the argument that private sexual behavior has no bearing on public leadership is taken at face value, then moral relativism has already won and the Church is just a few step removed from what the Episcopal Church (and now the Presbyterian Church) have already become.

                  If the OCA is caught in a self-referencing toxicity — if the interpretive grid that give events their meaning have no reference point outside of the institution itself, then only three possibilities are open to it.

                  It must die so that something can rise from the ashes. This would require people who live an authentic life in Christ since only Christ is the conqueror of death. Most people say they do but in fact most don’t. This is why the churches that John mentioned in Revelations were never heard from again.

                  A reformer sent by God can emerge. Most likely though that reformer will be scapegoated. The sin of the tribe (in this case the institution) will be placed on his back and he will be driven into the desert. The institution believes it has cleansed itself but in the end will die (although it may repeat this process a few more times before it does). This is what happened to Christ and those who authentically lived in Him (Chrysostom, Maximos, etc.).

                  Intervention occurs from the outside. In this case an external authority becomes the reference point. It requires however that mature men exist who can take the reigns of leadership when called forward. Maturity here means sobriety in the scriptural sense of the term: real repentance, real accountability, personal integrity, and so forth. These terms have a distinct meaning, but people within the institution (who reason within the dominant interpretive grid) do not really know what they mean even though they think they do. If they did, they would recognize that procedural changes alone won’t solve the problems.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    I wonder whether the church’s survival in the past centuries turned on that last paragraph of yours– those pious in the government intervening with aspects of force from the civil authority upon some church personalities to break the ‘steering by your own wake only’ destructive aspect you outline.

                    Without the interest from outside-church-leadership powerful people as we’ve had here in the west ‘separation of church and state’— meaning the state takes no role in the life of the church– the ‘closed’ or ‘self referential’ aspect dominates, with the consequences you’ve described.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Well, it took the Boston Globe to break the self-referential grid of the Catholic Church. I’m no fan of the Globe, but there they were an agent of truth.

                      On a larger cultural level, I think the threat of Islam might be forcing the same kind of introspection. Assyria was no friend of God, but they still did His will.

                      It took 80 years of communism to cleanse the Russian Orthodox Church. (I’m not implying it was a judgment because I don’t know if it was or not.) Now they are the voice of the Christian moral tradition in Europe in the throes of cultural collapse. See: From Russia, With Love.

                      The prophetic word is usually not heeded until judgment comes.

                  • Father, you yourself mention the age-old dynamics of scapegoating the reformer. But tu quoque, apparently. With respect. If you are in fact so obsessively concerned about homosexual practice in the Church, as you seem to be, and its “inherent toxicity,” why pick on Mark Stokoe, then? Why not focus that inquisitional disposition on the bishops and the priests? Mark Stokoe is a layman, unordained. By definition, not a Church leader, according to Orthodox ecclesiology as I understand it.

                    I understand you’re not in the OCA. May I ask where you are? AOC?

                    Please forgive me for any unintended offense, but in a country as corrupt as this one, and in ever so many ways, I always get deeply suspicious whenever I encounter pious discourse marked by this odor. It isn’t as though we Americans are free from the other types of corruption and impurity. This group is a cabal mainly populated by people with a narrow focus, to be charitable, on one specific symptom of impurity. But that sort of specialization is guaranteed to lead into a cul-de-sac of irrelevancy, best case. Its appeal will probably be limited to the unjust. So good luck with that.

                    Human beings are subject to all sorts of inherently toxic impurities and the noetic, psychic and spiritual disorders that result. What the Orthodox Church needs are more profound GPs. It has more than enough shallow and hypocritical specialists. I have reason to think you understand this already. Mostly I want to suggest that you keep it in mind in these discussions.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Lots of loaded words here Mike, “inquisitional disposition, obsessively concerned,” and so forth. I have to sift through the editorializing to answer your question in any reasonable way.

                      The reason for pointing out Mark Stokoe is because of the prominence of his site and his position on the Metropolitan Council. That’s the only reason. If he didn’t have the site, the question would not be a public one as I said.

                      As for your comment of “encounter pious discourse marked by this odor,” there is nothing “pious” about it. Read it through again.

                      As for the “odor” of the homosexual issue, like it or not, it is fast becoming and perhaps already is, the primary anthropological question of the larger culture. The church cannot avoid dealing with it. We’ve got to live in reality Mike!

                    • Fr. Jacobse, I’ve been reading and rereading your posts and I am pretty mystified by them, to be honest. They display an energetic capacity to misread plain English. Please recall my very first sentences, which began this exchange:

                      Father, you yourself mention the age-old dynamics of scapegoating the reformer. But tu quoque, apparently. With respect. If you are in fact so obsessively concerned about homosexual practice in the Church, as you seem to be, and its “inherent toxicity,” why pick on Mark Stokoe, then? Why not focus that inquisitional disposition on the bishops and the priests? Mark Stokoe is a layman, unordained. . .

                      Your response was rather bizarre, to put it mildly. After quoting the pericope from 1Timothy 3:1-7, you wrote:

                      Here Paul is saying something different than you are. You argue that because all men struggle against sin and temptation, this is enough to overlook the sins of leaders. Paul says the opposite. He says that any man who desires a position of leadership (Gr. episcopos or overseer, our English word is Bishop) must have experience in the internal battles and have overcome his temptations and sin, before he is considered for leadership.

                      I’ll repeat myself:

                      . . .Why not focus that inquisitional disposition on the bishops and the priests? Mark Stokoe is a layman, unordained. . .

                      Very far from what you claimed I said. I asked, Why single out Mark Stokoe? Because he makes a very easy and vulnerable target to distract attention from the abject failures of some in the hierarchy and priesthood? Is it perhaps because he’s a relatively honest man, unlike so many others? One wonders.

                      Would you claim that there are no bishops and priests in the OCA or GOA to go after with respect to “homosexuality,” which clearly concerns you so deeply? Again, Mark Stokoe is a layman, not an ordained clergyman or hierarch. I never said nor implied that “we should overlook the sins of our leaders,” contrary to your misrepresentation. I said that epithymia takes many forms, and that singling out one of those forms is dangerous and hypocritical and causes fair-minded, just and rational people to turn away from the Church in disgust. In a country like this, passionately enslaved to the form of epithymia called material greed (recall that Paul equated covetousness with idolatry: pleonexian hetis estin eidwlatria — think Mammon) and violent (and unfunded!) militancy to protect it (Moloch ring a bell?) and official deceit of all kinds, these reasonable and just people sneer in derision. With good reason.

                      I ask this here constantly, in vain. But I’ll try again: what evidence supports the charge that Mark Stokoe is sinful in the way implied around here constantly? What is your justification for holding the coats of those who parrot this incessant innunendo? Because he doesn’t live by himself? If so, that’s just cruel.

                      Catharsis/illumination/theosis: the path to God. I’m 100% in favor of this theoretical trajectory, please believe me. But I gotta ask: are you contending that the priesthood and hierarchy of the OCA and GOA are exemplary models of this trajectory toward God?


                    • Fr. Jacobse, I wrote:

                      Again, to be clear: the odor I referred to is the whiff one gets from discourse wherein this particular, relatively rare, syndrome of the acting out of epithymia is stressed, inordinately, and its damaging effects to others are magnified disproportionately and irrationally. This has a tendency to transmogrify into phobia, hysteria.

                      Your take?

                      The rest of your post is sophomoric editorializing. Let me put your words in plain English: Homosexuality is a relatively rare acting out of an internal passion (lust). Talking about it will lead to “phobia” (this is a nonsensical statement, BTW) and hysteria.

                      Really? Unplug your ears Mike. People are talking about it all the time.

                      I’m tempted to ask you if you’re even serious. And if you are, if these dialogue tactics normally work out for you. Ever heard of logical fallacies?


                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Mike, I already told you, I don’t respond to editorialized statements like “obsessive desire” or “inquisitional disposition .” These are moral judgements posing as facts. I call it moral posturing. They are used to close discussion rather than reach for deeper clarity.

                      As for your questions about charging the bishops, leveling a charge against a bishop is very serious business. Read your scripture. I take scripture seriously so I am very reticent to talk of the private failings of individual presbyters even privately. I certainly won’t do it in public. There are other ways to handle this.

                      Now, for the following, this is the last time I will answer it:

                      I said that epithymia takes many forms, and that singling out one of those forms is dangerous and hypocritical and causes fair-minded, just and rational people to turn away from the Church in disgust. In a country like this, passionately enslaved to the form of epithymia called material greed (recall that Paul equated covetousness with idolatry: pleonexian hetis estin eidwlatria — think Mammon) and violent (and unfunded!) militancy to protect it (Moloch ring a bell?) and official deceit of all kinds, these reasonable and just people sneer in derision.

                      Your question here is why don’t I provide a catalog of sins alongside homosexuality, correct? (I’ll overlook the tendentious phrasing like “dangerous, hypocritical. fair-minded, just, rational — all the posturing that communicates: me – good, you – bad, for the moment.)

                      The answer is simple: we are talking about homosexuality. If we were talking about greed, would you demand a mention about homosexuality to keep the discussion balanced? I don’t think so. Your real objection is not that homosexuality is mentioned to the exclusion to other sins, but that homosexuality is mentioned at all.

                      Why “single out” Stokoe? I’m not singling out Stokoe. Stokoe singled out himself when he elected to be on the Metropolitan Council and when he started OCANews.

                      Public figures are held to a different standard. If you saw me in restaurants with women other than my wife, you could ask me if I am committing adultery. It comes with the territory Mike. Any public figure with an ounce of awareness knows it.

                      The rest of your questions are not relevant or germane to my original points. I’m not interested in expanding the discussion beyond them.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Certainly to me, the approach Fr. Hans outlines elevates seeking what’s true in a careful way and acting on it.

                      The alternative Mike suggests was also answered by the old mayor of New York years ago, Ed Koch. He said “Just because we can’t help everybody doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help anybody”. Mike’s suggestion at heart requires a single complex answer be enacted only capable of addressing all interwoven issues in one go. Not possible, but then he knows this. The result is, well, that which we presently see.

                    • Father Hans, bless.

                      Mike, I already told you, I don’t respond to editorialized statements like “obsessive desire” or “inquisitional disposition .” These are moral judgements posing as facts.

                      I retract the qualifiers here, because you are correct to insist that they editorialize. They are tendentious, and I apologize for the implications. It was unjust.

                      As for your questions about charging the bishops, leveling a charge against a bishop is very serious business. Read your scripture. I take scripture seriously so I am very reticent to talk of the private failings of individual presbyters even privately. I certainly won’t do it in public. There are other ways to handle this.

                      Of course, it’s a very serious matter indeed. Which is why I suggest with all due respect that you should be very cautious about jumping on the bandwagon of innuendo re: Mark Stokoe. This is a very slippery slope. I’m confused about why this extremely important Scriptural standard that you cite should not apply similarly, at least in spirit if not in letter, to Mark Stokoe. I take it that you don’t have any substantial evidence supporting the accusation of unchastity that you nevertheless seem to be OK with, judging from your words posted here. Perhaps you would care to explain yourself further.

                      Now, for the following, this is the last time I will answer it:

                      “I said that epithymia takes many forms, and that singling out one of those forms is dangerous and hypocritical and causes fair-minded, just and rational people to turn away from the Church in disgust. In a country like this, passionately enslaved to the form of epithymia called material greed (recall that Paul equated covetousness with idolatry: pleonexian hetis estin eidwlatria — think Mammon) and violent (and unfunded!) militancy to protect it (Moloch ring a bell?) and official deceit of all kinds, these reasonable and just people sneer in derision.”

                      Your question here is why don’t I provide a catalog of sins alongside homosexuality, correct? (I’ll overlook the tendentious phrasing like “dangerous, hypocritical. fair-minded, just, rational — all the posturing that communicates: me – good, you – bad, for the moment.)

                      I don’t really see how I could make my essential question much clearer: why so little focus on epithymia in general? That is after all the fountain of corruption, according to Holy Scripture. It manifests, is expressed, in many forms, as Holy Scripture also teaches, cf. our Lord, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, among many others. And why does there seem to be so little focus, relatively speaking, on another manifestation of epithymia?

                      So, in this case, with respect to your allegation of tendentious phrasing, I will stubbornly demur, Father. I remain in steadfast disagreement that it is not dangerous and hypocritical and unjust and irrational, in this country at this time, to emphasize a specific manifestation of epithymia, one which is distinctly unpopular and relatively rare among Orthodox Christians — and therefore relatively quite safe to decry — to the effective occlusion of a form which is nearly universal, and which has vast, deleterious and metastatic consequences of many, many kinds for the heart, soul, mind and spirit of Christians and unbelievers alike, for the human world as a whole and for God’s good Creation. I am very, very suspicious when this sin and its consequences aren’t emphasized, too, for the reasons mentioned. I think this fact is scandalous and shocking.

                      The answer is simple: we are talking about homosexuality. If we were talking about greed, would you demand a mention about homosexuality to keep the discussion balanced? I don’t think so.

                      Your impression is incorrect and clearly unjustified by my words. Another case of misreading and eisegesis, with respect. In fact I would insist on it, along with warnings about those other kinds of soul-wounding, toxic forms of lust and porneia. I’m a holist. I am saying: TALK MORE ABOUT GREED AND MATERIALISM AND PLEONEXIA, FATHERS!

                      Your real objection is not that homosexuality is mentioned to the exclusion to other sins, but that homosexuality is mentioned at all.

                      I regard that as an offensive slur, Father, for which you have no grounds whatsoever. For the record.

                    • Harry, I’m wondering if my preceeding response to Fr. Hans may lead you to qualify the following endorsement and disparagement:

                      Certainly to me, the approach Fr. Hans outlines elevates seeking what’s true in a careful way and acting on it.

                      The alternative Mike suggests was also answered by the old mayor of New York years ago, Ed Koch. He said “Just because we can’t help everybody doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help anybody”. Mike’s suggestion at heart requires a single complex answer be enacted only capable of addressing all interwoven issues in one go. Not possible, but then he knows this. The result is, well, that which we presently see.

                      {boldface is my emphasis]

                      Your interpretation is most inaccurate. I am suggesting that the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures not be occluded and distorted but faithfully taught:

                      2 Peter 1:1-4

                      Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith as precious as our own, given through the saving justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
                      2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of our Lord.
                      3 By his divine power, he has lavished on us all the things we need for life and for true devotion, through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.
                      4 Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion. —New Jerusalem Bible

                      Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. Ὡς πάντα ἡμῖν τῆς θείας δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν δεδωρημένης διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ, δι’ ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται, ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς.

                      ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς. Disordered passion. Takes. Many. Forms. Especially. Pleonexia. Especially. Pleonexia. Teach. This. Truth. I. Beg. You.

                      St. Paul: pleonexia equals idolatry.

                      There is a one size fits all solution to the problem, according to Saint Peter. The essence of the disease is very simple: ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς, disordered, sinful passion. Which takes many, many forms. The essence of its cure is faith in, trust in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of Him and His Word, as taught by His Holy Apostles.

                      Purification, illumination, theosis.

                      Got it? I certainly hope so.

                  • I want to be clear: the deeper problem is epithymia, which takes many forms as we know. Lust, concupiscence, sinful passion in general is the essential problem. A hypocritical tendency to magnify the malevolence of those forms to which we ourselves are little or perhaps not at all subject, and then to gather in cliques populated by the likeminded, etc., is not unknown among Christians. Forgive me if I repeat myself, but I think it’s an important fact to stress. I don’t get the sense that this fact is well understood around here and elsewhere. That would be very dangerous, if true.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Mike, let me add some clarity to what you are saying.

                      The foundation of all sin — the battlefield against sin — is internal, within us. That is where is has to be fought because that is where sin originates. And, if you can win the battle on the inside, you will be victorious in everything you face on the outside (even in death as the martyrs confess).

                      But that does not mean we relax the standards for those who seek leadership. The scripture is clear on this. Look at the standards that Paul set for a bishop:

                      This is a true saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

                      Here Paul is saying something different than you are. You argue that because all men struggle against sin and temptation, this is enough to overlook the sins of leaders. Paul says the opposite. He says that any man who desires a position of leadership (Gr. episcopos or overseer, our English word is Bishop) must have experience in the internal battles and have overcome his temptations and sin, before he is considered for leadership.

                    • The “homosexual issue” is the “primary anthropological issue of the wider culture,” is it? That’s myopic, IMHO. With all due respect.

                      Again, to be clear: the odor I referred to is the whiff one gets from discourse wherein this particular, relatively rare, syndrome of the acting out of epithymia is stressed, inordinately, and its damaging effects to others is magnified disproportionately and irrationally. This has a tendency to transmogrify into phobia, hysteria. As implied in #254.

                      This social dynamic is very convenient for some. It lends itself quite nicely to the handy shell games so useful for distracting attention from arguably bigger problems — more widespread and more highly toxic and destructive problems. Lust is toxic. Lust expresses itself in many forms. I find it stinky when this fundamental and basic fact is not the one in primary focus.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Mike, do you watch the news? Homosexual marriage is one of the hottest cultural debates going. You really need to take the blinders off.

                      The rest of your post is sophomoric editorializing. Let me put your words in plain English: Homosexuality is a relatively rare acting out of an internal passion (lust). Talking about it will lead to “phobia” (this is a nonsensical statement, BTW) and hysteria.

                      Really? Unplug your ears Mike. People are talking about it all the time. Ever watch “Glee”? That show is essentially a propaganda piece for the gay lobby. Did you watch the battle for Prop. 8 in California? Everyone in the state was talking about it.

                      As for your last paragraph, again, plain English: Talking about homosexuality distracts from bigger problems (you don’t name them) that are more toxic (to the culture? to the church? you don’t say) and you disapprove (“find it stinky”) when people don’t agree with your assessment.

                      From where I sit Mike, all you’ve said is that you disapprove. Well, OK. What comes next?

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      Fr. Hans,

                      I don’t think “You argue that because all men struggle against sin and temptation, this is enough to overlook the sins of leaders.” is a fair reading of Mike’s point.

                      Mike wrote about: “A hypocritical tendency to magnify the malevolence of those forms to which we ourselves are little or perhaps not at all subject….” while pointing out the real problem is “…epithymia…Lust, concupiscence, sinful passion in general…”

                      The conclusion you drew, that therefore that malevolence should be overlooked, is not at all fairly drawn from Mike’s observation. If anything, applying Mike’s observation would require overlooking fewer, not more, sins of our religious leaders.

                      For example: Despite clear and corpulent evidence, how is it we never hear about the sin of gluttony, and the few who talk about it are denounced as being “PC?” In the biggest consumer culture on earth, it’s downright un-American to campaign against acquisitiveness. Both those sins have far more successfully waged a war for acceptance and against condemnation than homosexuality.

                      To me this is what Mike is talking about. Not about ignoring anything so much as putting things in context.

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      Fr. Hans,

                      I found your Glee observation funny, but then I remember the Village People, Liberace and more….that battle has been going on a while, eh?

                      When it comes to this topic I tend to agree with Bishop Tikhon of the West, retired, whose view was that the secular culture has already decided that adultery is “no fault” and serial monogamy is just fine, already decided that those who created “liars loans” bear no responsibility for those who use and/or get suckered by them, that gluttony is a medical problem, that greed is good, that torture is acceptable, and so by what conceivable logic would it draw a line at homosexual marriage?

                      We do not live in a Christian culture and haven’t for a very long time. In fact our secular leaders of every political persuasion are irreligious at best, hostile to us at worst. (Whenever secular political leaders play the religion card we need to keep this in mind.) We pray for them daily, but we should not hold any illusions that they reciprocate.

                      As with the Church of the martyrs before Constantine, it seems to me our witness in the 21st century will be not in the form of how well we wield political power in a system that is hostile to our values, but rather in the example of love for each other and Christ that we manifest wherever we go.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      You don’t hear public criticism about gluttony like you do homosexuality because gluttons(?) don’t demand moral parity for their passion and a corresponding retooling of cultural structures to accommodate it.

                      Your point would be stronger if Mike had not used the word “hypocritical”. That sets up an opposition between the two points and implies a higher moral value for one over the other. Also, the term “malevolence” doesn’t really apply. The point, as I told Mike, is is not that all men are subject to passions (they are), but that this subjection should not relax the requirements for religious leadership. Leaders, as Paul makes clear, must have mastered them.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Chris, read David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions. It’s the best analysis on how the early Christians transformed pagan culture that I have ever come across. It’s an outstanding book.

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      Fr. Hans,

                      There’s no battle over gluttony and greed because they have become organizational principles for modern American society.

                      Visit a Waffle House, or Disneyworld, or Applebee’s, or WalMart, or check out the shopping carts (and the garbage cans) anywhere in America. Gluttony is so pervasive that you have to fight to NOT eat like a sow…surely you’ve heard of “supersizing.”

                      To be fair, there are campaigns to slow the growth of childhood and adult obesity on pure physical health grounds, campaigns that are criticized as being “PC” and government intrusion into private lives, but there are no such campaigns on the moral ground that simply consuming whatever we want whenever we want is wrong.

                      An observation a friend of mine had: is that we are blessed with so many options in such plentitude that we don’t really see how much we’re consuming…many Orthodox Christians’ Lenten tables are better larded than most of the world’s population’s festal tables.

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      Got the book.

                      I know *why* Christianity triumphed, what I hope to learn is *how,* that is *how* the earliest Christian communities changed their societies. I didn’t see a single review that spoke to this, but your recommendation did.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


                      I remain in steadfast disagreement that it is not dangerous and hypocritical and unjust and irrational, in this country at this time, to emphasize a specific manifestation of epithymia, one which is distinctly unpopular and relatively rare among Orthodox Christians — and therefore relatively quite safe to decry — to the effective occlusion of a form which is nearly universal, and which has vast, deleterious and metastatic consequences of many, many kinds for the heart, soul, mind and spirit of Christians and unbelievers alike, for the human world as a whole and for God’s good Creation.

                      The more you press your point, the more abstract your writing becomes.

                      So, let me answer in plain English. The antidote to the corruption in man’s heart and thus in the world is Jesus Christ. But there will be no effective preaching of the Gospel (and the works of mercy that follow it), until we get our own house in order first. Decrying the sins of the world because the discussion of our own sins makes us uncomfortable is just a diversion, a way of foregoing any confrontation with our own sin, both individual sin and the sin which exists in the institution (which is also individual in the end).

                      Just as I have little patience for moral posturing, I have even less patience for what I call empty-headed spiritualization where reality is hidden behind pious calls for conformity to Christ that are empty of any real content because they don’t speak to the situation at hand (we Orthodox are masters at this). I look at that as an adulteration of God’s word, and as the scripture makes clear, there is a high penalty for that violation especially for teachers, preachers, and others who presume to handle the word of God.

                      So no. I am not going to speak in the way you want me to. I never, ever, subject the word of God to idle speculations nor do I employ the language of the moral tradition in speculative pursuits. That does not mean I am always right (I’m not) but it does mean that I am not frivolous.

                    • Father Hans, bless.

                      I remain in steadfast disagreement that it is not dangerous and hypocritical and unjust and irrational, in this country at this time, to emphasize a specific manifestation of epithymia, one which is distinctly unpopular and relatively rare among Orthodox Christians — and therefore relatively quite safe to decry — to the effective occlusion of a form which is nearly universal, and which has vast, deleterious and metastatic consequences of many, many kinds for the heart, soul, mind and spirit of Christians and unbelievers alike, for the human world as a whole and for God’s good Creation.

                      Mike, the more you press your point, the more abstract your writing becomes.

                      I am willing and able to get real concrete here, Father, if that’s what you would like me to do. All you have to do is ask, and I will be pleased to explain myself further in more concrete language. As I ask of you, below.

                      So, let me answer in plain English. The antidote to the corruption in man’s heart and thus in the world is Jesus Christ. But there will be no effective preaching of the Gospel (and the works of mercy that follow it), until we get our own house in order first. Decrying the sins of the world because the discussion of our own sins makes us uncomfortable is just a diversion, a way of foregoing any confrontation with our own sin, both individual sin and the sin which exists in the institution (which is also individual in the end).
                      Just as I have little patience for moral posturing, I have even less patience for what I call empty-headed spiritualization where reality is hidden behind pious calls for conformity to Christ that are empty of any real content because they don’t speak to the situation at hand (we Orthodox are masters at this).

                      Father, with all due respect, you appear to have launched forth into some abstraction yourself. These three bolded words above mean what, exactly? The phrase that follows, which is clear and true enough, hardly helps me to understand, if it was intended to do so. Surely you didn’t mean to suggest that my claim about the omnipresence of the grave and terrible sin of pleonexia — which Paul equated with idolatry — in this country and in the Orthodox Church, is “empty-headed spiritualization” that “doesn’t speak to the situation at hand.” Not incidentally, I wish to correct my earlier, inadvertent limitation of pleonexia to mere material greed, as that is conventionally understood. This corruption is evident across a broad spectrum of sinful covetings of that which does not belong to the coveter.


                      Perhaps you missed my post in reply to Harry, posted before yours. Here it is for your reference:

                      Harry, I’m wondering if my preceding response to Fr. Hans may lead you to qualify the following endorsement and disparagement:

                      Certainly to me, the approach Fr. Hans outlines elevates seeking what’s true in a careful way and acting on it.
                      The alternative Mike suggests was also answered by the old mayor of New York years ago, Ed Koch. He said “Just because we can’t help everybody doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help anybody”. Mike’s suggestion at heart requires a single complex answer be enacted only capable of addressing all interwoven issues in one go. Not possible, but then he knows this. The result is, well, that which we presently see.

                      {boldface is my emphasis}

                      Your interpretation is most inaccurate. I am suggesting that the clear teaching of the Holy Scriptures not be occluded and distorted but faithfully taught:

                      2 Peter 1:1-4
                      Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith as precious as our own, given through the saving justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of our Lord.
3 By his divine power, he has lavished on us all the things we need for life and for true devotion, through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.
4 Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion. —New Jerusalem Bible

                      Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. Ὡς πάντα ἡμῖν τῆς θείας δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν δεδωρημένης διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ, δι’ ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται, ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς.

                      ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς. Disordered passion. Takes. Many. Forms. Especially. Pleonexia. Especially. Pleonexia. Teach. This. Truth. I. Beg. You.

                      St. Paul: pleonexia equals idolatry.

                      There is a one size fits all solution to the problem, according to Saint Peter. The essence of the disease is very simple: ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς, disordered, sinful passion. Which takes many, many forms. The essence of its cure is faith in, trust in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of Him and His Word, as taught by His Holy Apostles.
                      Purification, illumination, theosis.
                      Got it? I certainly hope so.

                      You wrote, Father:

                      I look at that as an adulteration of God’s word, and as the scripture makes clear, there is a high penalty for that violation especially for teachers, preachers, and others who presume to handle the word of God.
                      So no. I am not going to speak in the way you want me to. I never, ever, subject the word of God to idle speculations nor do I employ the language of the moral tradition in speculative pursuits. That does not mean I am always right (I’m not) but it does mean that I am not frivolous.

                      Here you’ve lost me completely. You seem to be charging me with a pretty serious misdemeanor, at least, and therefore I think have a right to hear you elaborate on it, as it is far from clear what you are talking about. Where did I ever make such a request of you? What exactly are you accusing me of, and on what do you base the accusation? Please be specific and concrete. A related question is: What do you mean by “idle speculations,” in the context of my posts? Where have I been guilty of this, if that is your meaning? Or where have I asked you to engage in such a thing, if that is your meaning?

                      Father, bless.

          • The mess that Fr. Fester got himself into is of his own choosing, based on his own actions. He is the one who decided to conduct himself in such a shameful and disgusting manner. Attempting to use a disgraced and corrupt man like +Nikolai, a hierarch who persecuted and abused so many priests in Alaska and then sued the OCA for $26 million, in order to destabilize the OCA and worsen the situation was beyond contempt.

            • A Remnant says

              This must be from the Forgiveness section of the church!

            • Correction,
              +Nikolai sued the OCA for only $11 million:

              It was Robert Kondratick that sued the OCA for $26 million:

            • As for me, I can’t understand why in the world Father Fester did what he did about Nikolai. It’s a mystery to me — a troubling mystery. I would never defend that. Despite that, Mr. Banescu, please understand that Fester finds himself in such a bad place today because his private e-mails were hacked by a bishop who had no moral or probably legal right to them. The OCA is going to end up being sued over this bigtime. Fester was wrong to suck up to Nikolai, but none of that justifies the theft of his e-mails. Think about what you are saying! You are a lawyer!

            • Chris, I have addressed the issue of Fr. Fester’s communications with Bishop Nikolai and Kondratick. To summarize, I think his connection with those individuals was totally inappropriate. T’was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Fr. Fester answered for it.

              On the other hand, we can’t ignore the fact that this evidence was made public because Fr. Fester was personally violated. Yes, he was violated, full stop. If you have trouble seeing this, let’s switch sides for a hypothetical. Much has been made about a certain someone’s alleged moral impediment to serving on the Metropolitan Council. There’s a ton of circumstantial evidence suggesting that this person is living in a gay marriage, but a lot of people are saying it can’t be proven that they have sex, so no impediment. So, if someone were to secretly place a camera in his bedroom, capture him engaging in homosexual sex, and post it online, that would be sufficient evidence for everyone to recognize that he’s a sexually-active homosexual, right? And yet, it would be really hard to ignore the manner in which that evidence was obtained, because taking that video and posting it online would be a horrendous violation of his personal privacy. It would be one thing if there were some kind of legal loophole for taking the video, and the evidence was handled appropriately and only given to those who would be concerned with taking the appropriate action. It would be quite another to post it online, for everyone to see, in order to humiliate the subject.

              Also, Stokoe’s interpretation of the emails tries to make it look like OCATruth and Metropolitan Jonah are part of a concerted effort to restore Kondratick and Bishop Nikolai by linking both groups through Fr. Fester. Fr. Fester may not be squeaky-clean, but he didn’t make up the problems with Bishop Mark, or the actions taken to undermine Metropolitan Jonah. Fr. Fester may have even had ulterior motives for bringing those to light, but that doesn’t mean the problems don’t exist.

              • Harry Coin says

                There is no need for ‘cameras in the bedroom’ as the standard of proof. The Gospel is clear that church leadership must attain a higher standard — not live so as to give even the appearance of impropriety. The combined news accounts referring to ‘son in law’ plus the easily checked public records showing living at the same address undoubtedly give that appearance. The OCA must explain or cause corrective action.

                In this era of ‘shacking up’ and ‘gay marriage’ and so on, no two unmarried, unrelated people can share the same house and hold church office or rank (unless one is so sick or old as to be disabled and the other cares for them). Even if it’s called a ‘two person monastery’. It has to be several people, or one person.

                If the church is officially going to rely on ‘cameras in the bedroom’ as its standard for learning whether those holding high office aren’t shacking up, then where is the budget for the church to check and to gather that information, where is the permission from those accepting offices for it to be gathered?

                No, the ‘appearance of impropriety’ test must be sufficient.

                Especially as the ‘shack-up-ee’ generally isn’t of church rank sufficient to bring canonical charges, and certainly isn’t to be expected to come testify at a ‘spiritual court’ any more than a family member can be compelled to testify against a brother, parent, etc..

                • …The combined news accounts referring to ‘son in law’

                  News accounts? The text of death announcements/obituaries isn’t written by journalists and therefore isn’t a “news account.” It’s written by family member(s) and then typically forwarded by the funeral home to newspapers. In the real world, as you must know, these can be quite tendentious and have been known to reflect family politics and resentments — if often between the lines. Regardless, they aren’t objective, fact-checked journalism or “news accounts” in any conventional sense of the term.

                  …no two unmarried, unrelated people can share the same house and hold church office or rank…It has to be several people, or one person.

                  I’m here wondering about your authority to issue this rather bossy and inflexible obiter dictum. Says who?

                  • Keep in mind, fellows, I was using that as a hypothetical scenario to demonstrate that what happened to Fr. Fester was a terrible violation, regardless of what was in those emails. As much as some would like to have answers about a Metropolitan Council member’s lifestyle issues, I think we can all agree that there’s a line to be drawn. That line was drawn for Fr. Fester, too, but someone crossed it when he raided Fr. Fester’s email account, and Stokoe certainly did by publishing those emails.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    “Mike”, as I’ve written there is more than the one obit. If bother to scratch for even two minutes you can find a federal election donation record and an internet website usage record as recently as last year that put the two living at the same address. Anyone with more patience and willing to spend $30 could find much more I’m sure.

                    The point is, there’s an ample appearance of impropriety available to any living anywhere in the world, and the fellow serves on a church body making decisions that affect the national church. The national church must needs to give clarification, or a quiet separation from the office (not the church) if correction happens to in fact be due but declined.

                    • Michael is my baptismal name.

                      I never denied that there was more to this than the one obit. But none of these things you mention are germane to 1) the question of his chastity, or 2) the claim that he is “married.” Got a marriage document? If not, then I suggest you stop participating in this innuendo slinging, for what little that advice may be worth to you. Again, I don’t see how his living arrangements and financial/political dealings as such are any of your business.

                      …no two unmarried, unrelated people can share the same house and hold church office or rank…It has to be several people, or one person.

                      The “appearance of impropriety,” as noted, is by definition in the eye of the beholder, obviously. And something else that’s perfectly obvious to me is that nothing would satisfy the eye of many of you beholders. Except his ouster from the MC. Be honest about that, please (even though you are in the GOA, it appears pretty clear that you share this sentiment).

                      What “correction” do you have in mind. Please elaborate.

                • The “appearance of impropriety test” you suggest is one that makes me howl. Alas, appearances are in the eye of the beholder, as demonstrated hereabouts continuously, QED. It follows that one is reduced to appeasing the lowest common denominator of petty malice. So good luck with that. You’d be self-condemned to mediocrity and worse in your leadership. Why not be honest and just preach utter mediocrity? Why not go further and baptize it as a theological virtue? It appears to be the ousia of your ethos, anyway.

                  When I contemplate the objectively abominable “improprieties,” to use a euphemism, that are not only taken in blase stride by American “Christians” but supported by them loudly and passionately — to the horror of all sane and rational people around the globe. . . well, I won’t say what I think.

                  What a petty, silly crew most of y’all are. Embarrassing.

                  • What a petty, silly crew most of y’all are. Embarrassing.

                    If I want to run for public office (or church office) and there are questions about my morals, ethics and good standing in the community, it is my obligation to address these questions. I either can set them to rest, or withdraw my attempt at public-office.
                    If I am a private citizen with no intend at public office, then no one has any right to either ask me about these things or receive any answers from me.
                    Mark Stokoe, as a member of the Metropolitan Council, is a public figure in the OCA. The faithful of the church have questions about his life-stile and have the right to an answer from him. Should he prefer not to answer, then he has the obligation to resign his office…. He can’t have it both ways.
                    Your strained efforts to obfuscate, minimize or “normalize” the presence of the OCA-Lavenders in a fog of sermonizing bloviations, makes me think that you have invested in Provençal lavender-fields and are trying to save the investment by insulting “most” everyone around…

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Very well put, Joseph. Personally, I don’t care about the private life any person in our church hierarchy (and the MC is part of that hierarchy whether we like it or not) as much as whether they preach a different Gospel. I believe that it is possible that MS lives chastely with another man in the same way that thousands of other same-sex couples live together to share costs, etc. His actual private life can be viewed as ambiguous.

                      What is not ambiguous are his pronouncements on homosexuality which are not only heretical, but sociologically invalid. And if they were put into practice could do real harm to the Church. As I’ve said in another context, the abomination that has transpired in ECUSA is not because its priests are homosexual, but that even the heterosexual ones have preached the heresy of modernism for over 30 years now.

                      We forget that probably all of the heresiarchs of the Orthodox Church were themselves very moral men who had all the marks of their office. This includes works of charity, mercy, ordaining capable men, fiscal propriety, and so on. Yet they have been consigned to the dustbin of history not because of their lifestyle but because of their erroneous teachings.

                    • George, you wrote:

                      …What is not ambiguous are his pronouncements on homosexuality which are not only heretical, but sociologically invalid. And if they were put into practice could do real harm to the Church.

                      We forget that probably all of the heresiarchs of the Orthodox Church were themselves very moral men who had all the marks of their office. This includes works of charity, mercy, ordaining capable men, fiscal propriety, and so on. Yet they have been consigned to the dustbin of history not because of their lifestyle but because of their erroneous teachings.

                      I missed this class. Would you please direct me to where I could read the “pronouncements” you’re referring to for myself? I’d appreciate it.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    Except that the Gospel you appear to like quoting is in fact not with you on this point. The appearance of impropriety, giving surface cause for others to stumble, is taken quite seriously for those who would be church leaders– severely in fact in the Gospel.

                    Anyhow I’ll pass on responding to the snarky other language folk who like being anonymous allow themselves.

                    • You are participating in the innuendo about his unchastity and “gay marriage.” Who would have thought these things, if it weren’t for you and those like you, spreading this far and wide? You and the others chattering about his “sinful lifestyle” and his “gay marriage” and his alleged unchastity — without evidence — are the agents and impressarios and publicists of any “appearance of impropriety” there may be. How could you deny that? It’s a fact.

                      As I said earlier, I’m convinced that at least some of you would be utterly disconsolate if he were in fact innocent of your charges. You know who you are.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Mike, I’ve said most everything I have to say on the issue. Homosexual acting out is not allowed, heterosexual activity is confined to marriage. That’s the rules. Public figures can expect to be challenged when they appear to break them. If they did, then something has got to be done. That’s real life.

                      Not much more to say really. I’m not really interested in expanding the discussion beyond that. Thanks for asking.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      “Mike”, kindly accept and understand that I am in no way suggesting I know anything more than what has been previously published in official public records that are beyond manipulation, from various entirely different sources. I do not presume to know whether there has been or is presently any actual ongoing impropriety. I am asserting with 100% certainty that there is an important, conclusive, worldwide visible appearance of impropriety. That I happen to mention it, calling for a response should have been done, long since done, by church authorities.

                      It is just a little bizarre that folk on the internet should stumble upon this matter which has been a matter of public record now for more than a year, something the church should have done privately.

                      If it were me, if I were a single man, and given to know all Mark Stokoe has been given to know about the sexual misdoings that have formed such a major part of the struggles of my church these past many years… before my first official day as a leader on the Metropolitan council I would have altered my living arrangements so as to live in my own place, or in a monastery with several other men. I would have done everything I could to make sure nothing I did would make my choices give those who believed and followed my postings these many years reasons to stumble.

                      Now it could well be he’s done that, and that’s how matters are. After all if there’s no untoward relationship moving is a small matter. I would have had a plan in place with the Metropolitan council so as to protect them so should this matter arise in public they would be at the ready with a statement showing that while perhaps in the past there could be creditable theories that suggest impropriety those were resolved.

                      Has this happened? Will we see the OCA or some MC official make such a statement? Perhaps so. I hope so. Maybe this is just all a big internet hoo-hah about nothing as it’s been corrected long since. Once you accept to serve on a national church decision making body, you can’t at once claim to care about the teaching and also leave an appearance of impropriety unanswered.

                      Again as we see how the sharks here are, they would interpret anything true and factual Mark says as ‘self serving’. Because they just don’t like him and so forth. That’s why the OCA’s MC or related official needs to clear things up. I’m sure wiser public relations heads than mine have an acceptable answer.

                      If the church was all ‘closed and circular’ as some here write on about at length, and so didn’t care about growth, it would be one thing to leave this negative PR as the last word on the matter. But we want to grow. So, there needs to be a clarification, or, in due course, a quiet change in MC composition– no shame in that. It isn’t necessary to be a bishop, priest, deacon or metropolitan council member to be in communion.

                    • Harry, thanks for the time you put into what sounds like a conscientious attempt to explain your take on this particular aspect of the Stokoe/MC/+MJ controversy. And I certainly don’t intend to pick on you, or bait you or single you out among those chewing on this cud here. I realize of course that you aren’t responsible for the momentum of this “scandal”; I should have been more careful with some of my wording. Living in California teaches you something about the dynamics of sparks in dry brush. These things are a force of fallen nature.

                      I sense that you are a reasonable, fair guy, and so maybe that’s why I’ve been somewhat harsh with you. I don’t hear from you any of the eerie vibrato of malice I pick up from a few of the other posters, usually more or less between the lines. An especially eloquent, polished little gem of almost supernatural hatred appeared yesterday. Its message and inspiration were significantly more explicit than most.

                      Seems few if any here could care less about what I have to say; I’m sure I’ve been written off as a “Lavender” and/or “homosexual apologist” by now. My position is in fact much, much more complicated and qualified than such a caricature. But I soon had no illusions about the species of theopolitics prevailing in the microculture here, expected nothing better and am not surprised by this general reception.

                      So I guess this is just between us, if you’re still interested. Your candid last post on this got me thinking. I have a few questions for you and observations but no more time at the moment.

          • Fr. Hans, I respect your work and a great deal of what you have to say. If I’m not mistaken, though, you are not a priest in the OCA, correct? If that is true, then probably it is fair to say that you don’t really have an inside track to this mess. And would it also be fair to say you have a definite bias in favor of the perceived conservatism of OCATruth?

            With regard to your perception that it’s all backwards, I would have to say as a lay member with the same conservative bias as you, but with personal experiences within both an AOC parish under Bp. Mark and now in a healthy OCA parish under the late Bp. Job of blessed memory, that I can admit plenty of problematic actions and words on both sides, and it is not so easily reduced to what you see istm.

            From what I can see, OCANews has an edge overall over OCATruth in objectivity in that Stokoe has tended to stick to revealing facts and not rely on ad hominem and hearsay for what he reports. There’s no question that Stokoe is not, in fact, objective, however, in the facts he chooses to present and how he presents them, and there is no question that he has a stake in a particular position in this conflict. How justified that stake is, I submit, no one but those on the OCA Synod and/or otherwise directly involved really know for sure!

            Unfortunately, istm OCATruth has not upheld a journalistic standard that is hard to exceed. I find Fr. Joseph’s, Rod Dreher’s, and Bp. Mark’s underhanded dealings, which have now been exposed, all loathsome and undermining to the health of the Church.

            The emails of the MC members regarding what they saw needing to be addressed vis-a-vis HB Met. Jonah, and Fr. Garklov, by the OCA Synod, etc., may indeed reveal similarly underhanded machinations, but I don’t feel enough is known about the reasons for this discussion to properly and fully discern that at this point, at least from the position of an outside reader of the various reports.

            Regarding this issue, there seems to be little question that the character who thought fit to draw public attention to those emails is not a sterling one in the eyes of his peers, who apparently chose to offer him “retirement,” in lieu of allowing him to remain active as a bishop. The said retired Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) remains a firm supporter of another retired bishop, Bp. Nicolai (the same one with whom Fr. Joseph Fester so warmly corresponded in his now infamous email), who tonsured a convicted sex offender a Reader contrary to canon law only two years after the offender’s conviction, and who persisted in defending his action, euphemistically characterizing this 26 year old seminarian’s immoral and illegal escapades–which included statutory rape of 13 and 14 year olds–as “youthful indiscretions” (details available at This ought to put the current climate in the OCA on the MC in some perspective. It also makes me hesitate to put the aforementioned MC council members’ correspondence in the harsh light many have insisted upon doing. It perhaps even to some extent mitigates the implication of malicious motives on the part of Bp. Mark in passing on Fr. Joseph’s email correspondence with Bp. Nicolai to the OCA Synod, MC and/or OCANews.

            Istm, a discussion with this priest (, who has first-hand experience within the OCA, coupled with measured and careful reflection might be fruitful in providing a perspective more fully reflecting reality than I think your comment here does. I think only such careful disclosures, rather than opinion based on hearsay from both our priests and laity, regardless of which side they many be offered to support, are what will really advance the cause of truth and the gospel within the Church.

            I see Chris has offered further context by outlining more of Bp. Nicolai’s nefarious deeds.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              Yes, I am not in the OCA. Yes, I don’t really grasp the Byzantine workings of the OCA (the OCA has more committees than any organization I have ever seen!). Yes, I am a cultural and theological conservative.

              One quibble if I might and please don’t take this personally because I am only using it as a jumping off point and not directing my comments to you:

              I think only such careful disclosures, rather than opinion based on hearsay from both our priests and laity, regardless of which side they many be offered to support, are what will really advance the cause of truth and the gospel within the Church.

              I don’t think that the disclosures advance the “cause of truth and the gospel…” I think it works the other way around. The gospel reveals the sin, and once revealed it must be vanquished, first in our lives, then second in culture of the Church.

              The reason for the present darkness is that the gospel has been muffled, put under a bushel. From that neglect grow the calls for an ever increasingly complex network of committees and procedures. It’s also explains the endless discussions of accountability, transparency, anonymity, legal fine points and so forth that go on and on and on. I see it as a dead end.

              No restructuring of the institution will cause the light to shine. Only a recovery of the gospel can do that.

              The OCA stands at a threshold. Actually it stands at the edge of a cliff. All Orthodox jurisdictions will face it sooner or later. (Indeed, all Christians of every denomination are facing it.) We are brought to it by the changes in the dominant culture.

              We can’t be lukewarm. We can’t wink at the sin anymore because the dominant culture is such that the middle ground is gone. (It was an illusory place, even though for many decades it allowed Christians to pretend to be Christian without incurring any significant social penalty). I’m not overstating this. Our own sin will consume us.

              Can the OCA muster an internal reformation? I’m not sure it can. Will it be reformed? Yes, I think it will. (Unlike Ashley, I do not believe the OCA is destined for the dustbin of history.). The reform may need to be triggered from the outside, however.

              So yes, I don’t really grasp all the internal workings of the OCA or all the reasons why its internal culture has become what it is. I’m not sure I really have to though.

              That’s one of the reasons why I can’t shake the notion that it’s unjust that the the guy whose emails were stolen/borrowed/whatever lost his job, while the guy who stole/borrowed/whatever and the guy who published them still have theirs.

              If this kind of misconduct is justified as necessary for the good of the Church, then something greater and more needful is lacking. Hence my comments about internal reform.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              A second and quick reply Karen. All that stuff about Bp. Nicolai shows that the sickness that allowed such grave misjudgements was already in place. That it justifies the disciplining of Fr. Fester by posting his emails on a blog shows the sickness is still operative. The solution, in other words, is really part of the sickness. Both actions draw from the same well.

              If it were different, a process would be in place (more specifically, mature men would be available to handle these issues) that would not bring humiliation to Fr. Fester or harm to the Church.

              • The awful reality seen in the released emails exchanges shows that indeed Fr. Fester was drawing from that old well of sickness, corruption, lies, and delusion that enabled so many scoundrels and unethical malfeasors to abuse and “rape” the church as Metropolitan Jonah himself publicly acknowledged. Any man of character and integrity who claimed Christ as his shepherd and the Holy Scriptures as his guide would have nothing to do with such corrupt and delusional men and vile schemes.

              • Fr. Hans, thank you for the clarifications. I am certainly not going to dispute that the existence and nature of OCAnews shows there is a culture within the OCA that is not yet healed. The deep betrayal of trust by the actions of certain key people in previous OCA administrations, including the aforementioned “retired” bishops, takes a lot of time and steadfast patience and open communication to rebuild. By “careful disclosures” I also did not mean the public exposure of embarrassing private emails, but the responsible and appropriately transparent communication of hierarchs, clergy and lay councils outlining for all affected the facts of disordered situations and corrective actions taken. I’m sorry, I thought that would be clear, since I described the email disclosures as “loathsome,” and my comment about “careful disclosure” was by way of contrast with what I perceived as a lack of such care in your initial comment.

                I, for one, get absolutely no pleasure out of anyone’s humiliation, much less a clergyman of the Church, and I’d just as soon such things were handled graciously and discreetly (if firmly and resolutely with a realistic understanding of the deceitful nature of sin) out of the public eye. On the other hand, as Chris Banescu points out, some by accepting the grace of ordination and trying to influence public opinion in less than straightforward ways (such as posting selective information in comments on a blog under a pseudonym) set themselves up for such exposure and it does no good to lay all the blame at the doorstep then of Bp. Mark or Mark Stokoe and the OCA Synod.

                Of course, no Christian in their right mind would disagree with your point about an embrace of the gospel being fundamental to a healthy Church culture. But to be honest, Father, and truly I mean no disrespect here, I get tired of apparently well-meaning Christians throwing out such blanket generalities and truisms at all the complexities created by our admittedly sinful condition. Istm, the strategy of our enemy, the devil, is such that even people sincerely seeking to embody and embrace the gospel can get intimidated or confused or confounded or compromised by imposters wheedling their way into positions of power and dominating, manipulating, and speaking in ways counter to the gospel in the very name of Christ and the good order of the Church. This can take very subtle (at first) and seemingly pious forms. And, forgive me, but in observing the statements and activities of BOTH sides of this dispute, I don’t think OCAnews and its supporters have a monopoly on this kind of sin! For this reason we are exhorted in Scripture to be not only innocent as doves, but wise as serpents. In general, I think Christians do better at, at least approximating the first than they do mastering the second! We can ALL be complicit in fostering unhealthy cultures in the Church in various ways (just check the guidelines for Confession in our prayer books). Shame is a powerful snare of the devil, and, not just the embrace of the gospel on the part of the sinner, but the demonstration of the gospel in all its fullness on the part of those who claim to have embraced it is the only antidote and healing balm to such shame. That is simple to understand, but very difficult to do—especially when wounds run as deep as they do in the OCA. Pray for us in the OCA, and don’t forget your solidarity with us fellow sinners.

      • Christopher says

        I second this post (Fr. Han’s original response to Ashley), except I don’t see what the priests have to do with this – they are as much a part of this culture Ashley refers to as anyone else – if not more…

    • Heracleides says

      Power and control mind control has the power and control over all of your minds to lead you into denial of what that power and control mind control is really doing to all of you and your church. Power and control mind control …”

      Why do I feel like I’ve stumbled into the Twilight Zone… Seriously, take the meds as perscribed.

      • I totally agree. Ashley exhibits stream-of-consciousness bipolar writing with delusions of grandeur in many of her internet postings. Since Ashley is driven to comment on the Orthodox Church because of his son’s previous monastic experience, it is important to understand that five to fifteen percent of children born to one bipolar parent will also be bipolar. When a bipolar parent does not medically treat their illness, it is very likely that their affected child will, sadly, do likewise.

    • Ashley has been quoting from author and “group” leader, Steven Arterbum. According to this “group” leader, psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder are caused by sin. Medications are not needed. Nuff said.

      • Betty, you apparently have some experience with this. Are you working professionally in this field (or do you have the background/credentials to do so? I have listened from time to time to Arterburn’s show and have read some excerpts from his writings. I’ve never gotten the impression that he denies the need for medications where there are biochemically-based mental illnesses like bipolar–quite the opposite. His assertion that sin is at the root of even such biological illnesses; however (if this is indeed what he believes), is not inconsistent with the way I have read Orthodox Elders talk about these kind of conditions (who also do not deny that medical treatment/medication is often necessary and helpful, nonetheless). I suspect you are distorting Arterburn’s position here.

        • @ Karen
          Understand where Ashley is finding his quotes and WHY he is on this site. Ashley has adopted author Arterburn’s ideology. He believes that churches with an organizational structure and established “rules” such as the Eastern Orthodox Church are “toxic cults”. With this belief, an individual’s psychological history is not considered to be relevant in considering the etiology or treatment of one’s mental health problems. In this ideology, the sins/problems of the totalitarian structured “cult” church (EO) cause mental health disorders. Removing individuals from the “cult” and closing toxic churches eliminates their problems.

          • Betty, I understand your concern where Ashley’s beliefs are the issue, and believe your comment at #285 is likely true and helpful to give context to Ashely’s comments. Since everybody around here seems familiar with him, and others, more competent than me, do address his false ideology from time to time, I didn’t bother to make myself clear in that regard–obviously, since I am Orthodox, I don’t accept Ashley’s ideology about church structure. Frankly, I was just curious in my comment here as to whether you were, (as I so often do) just making an educated guess about Ashley having bipolar, as a lay person, perhaps in order to try to further discredit what he says, or perhaps because you have some experience with people suffering from bipolar disorder, or whether you actually have the professional credentials and training to officially diagnose. (Of course, you don’t have to answer that if you’d rather not.) Of course, I admit, I find Ashley’s “differences” (whatever their source) so obvious, that *my* fear is that the kernel of legitimate concern he does have and true observations he makes will be ignored by some Orthodox who ought to be paying attention.

            Back to your concern (and to make it clear to all, I am making my comments only as an educated and interested lay person, not a professional of any sort– my BA degree was as a double-major in Psychology and Christian Education at an Evangelical institution–so caveat lector! :-)), I haven’t read Arterburn on church structures, but if he is talking about “top-down” authority, the context is likely NOT administrative church structure nor rules per se, though it might at some points be read that way (the typicial Protestant/Evangelical biases are there, after all), but rather the *abuse* of authority and the rigid and legalistic application of rules within whatever structures are present. In any case, they could be applied in that way by Orthodox with some spiritually beneficial results I expect. I *have* read Jeff VanVonderan’s work in this area of the abuse of authority, and who, I would venture to agree with Ashley, might be indeed helpful for our Synod members, clergy, and seminarians to read. As I recall (I confess I haven’t been back to reread these works through an Orthodox lens yet), there is a lot of insight in his books on the nature of the abuse of spiritual authority–such abuse has the same etiology and recognizable symptoms in wherever context it occurs–and Church structure (though not Church “culture”) is an incidental to the core of what VanVonderan tries to show about the nature of the abuse of authority as it relates to a religious context. That stuff should be required reading for anyone who wants to serve the Church in a position of authority. I guarantee you that if it had been, and its lessons taken to heart among our clergy and hierarchs, we would not have the toxic and disordered Church culture we are now dealing with in the OCA. This is because at the center of VanVonderan’s thesis, I believe, is a sound exposition and application of the teachings of Jesus as they concern the sort of relational culture that ought to exist in the Church, and specifically regarding the true pastoral heart as one of being a humble servant of his flock, exercising his authority in such a way as to build them up to maturity in Christ and not merely to control them to serve the needs of his own ego (or, God forbid!) hide his own sin. I do believe it reflects a sound understanding of the nature of God’s love as it is expressed from one in authority over others. What I remember of his core insights is completely consonant with Elder Sophrony’s teaching about the inverted pyramid where we go down with Christ in humility in order to be in union with Him–with a specific application for clergy–the very opposite of the worldly exercise of power that involves “lording it over” God’s people.

            Ultimately, all this is to say I believe both Arterburn’s and VanVonderan’s work in these areas concern a default leadership style of “authoritarianism,” not the proper exercise of spiritual authority, which they certainly would recognize on some level as appropriate and biblical. I suspect it is likely Ashley who conflates culture of authority vs. structure of authority from that teaching, but I may be wrong. Regardless, I do think there is much of value in VanVonderan’s work that, in our current crisis of power, could be very beneficial for our Orthodox leaders to understand.

            Just because these writers are not Orthodox Christians and make use of material from the discipline of counseling psychology doesn’t mean they don’t actually have insights completely congruent with a right understanding of Orthodox Tradition that might offer a corrective to a misunderstanding or even denial (whether intentional or not) of genuinely Orthodox Tradtion on the part of some Orthodox leaders and laity.

    • Christopher says


      I could not read even half of what you wrote, but I fear the way it started is too true…

  18. Re: post 95. Bishop Mark copied that from an Antiochian site. Take a look Borrowing from another diocese!

    • Gina, that’s Bishop Mark borrowing from *himself*! That was posted online when he was Antiochian Bishop of Toledo and the Midwest. Look at the revision date on the document – December 2, 2005 – that’s when +Mark was an Antiochian bishop. And a new one, at that, since he was consecrated in December 2004 and enthroned in his diocese in August 2005.

    • I read through the Conflict Resolutions which Bishop Mark put together. They are excellent. But this begs the question, “Why didn’t he adhere to what he wrote?”

      The primary undertone of his sagacious comments were discretion, confidentiality, and preserving the reputation of clergy in a dispute resolution. So how does sending ALL of Fr. Joseph Fester’s personal emails to and having them blatantly distributed on the world wide web jibe with that? It doesn’t. It’s indefensible. When push comes to shove, doing the right thing was subservient to justifying the wrong thing. How would you trust such hypocritical actions by a mediator in a conflict dispute?

  19. Tiresias says

    Under the current circumstances Bishop Mark’s release of his “Conflict Resolution Guidelines” over St. Seraphim’s Friends List (which I understand was originated before his arrival for far more mundane purposes like making sure the after Liturgy coffee hour was covered) is surreal and has the air of Alice in Wonderland. Right now it is like lighting a match next to a powder keg or pouring salt in a wound. While surely not intended as such, it communicates a certain contempt for the very people a bishop is supposed to serve when he surely knows his actions have given offense to many and he is the subject of their ire.

    It is hard to believe how anyone in his position could think this a wise communication at this juncture. Were he the ordinary of the Diocese and were there no ongoing conflict, the publication of dispute resolution guidelines (carefully presented in a pastoral manner) might actually be salutary, but when one is but an auxiliary-bishop Administrator and the very person (in this case) against whom so many have a complaint and grievance, this tactic seems destined not to calm the situation but to feed the flames. It boggles the mind. There is comfort, Proverbs says, in a multitude of counsellors and a wise man accepts correction gladlyand humbly. I wonder that so many of our leaders appear to have so few of the former and are so loathe to do the latter.

    For Jonah, Nikon, Mark, for the venerable priesthood and the diaconate n Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the LORD.

    And may He grant us all to speak more of His wondrous works and less of ours and to hold each other–including especially our clergy and hierarchy–to account to live according to the likeness of Christ in Whose image we have been made and made anew in Baptism.


    • Dallas Texas says

      Think bigger. The analogy I would suggest is “like driving a gasoline tanker into a burning house.”

      • Ashley Nevins says

        You don’t let kids play with gasoline and matches in the house of God.

        Ashley Nevins

    • O Hamartolos says

      Very well said. I had the same idea when I read that. It is surreal.

  20. Ashley Nevins says

    Yes, I know the Orthodox do not listen. They only listen to what thinks for them. It is your OCA end, and thus ends my thinking for myself in this particular thread conversation.

    My next post will be Orthodox correct so that you will listen, but, alas, you will not listen even then. I am not Orthodox and so nothing I say will be Orthodox correct enough to be listened too. It is your choice to read or not, but I know you will read this.

    The Orthodox LOVE to talk about their problems, but they don’t really LOVE talking about solution that really solves the problems. I see the powerless solutions raised in this discussion. They sound like all the other discussions around the OCA debacle. All talk and no real solution. The Orthodox opinion poll does not provide solution.

    The hierarchy power and control that I speak too has lead all of you to powerless opinion and has not lead you to enpowered solution. Yes, I know, you don’t much appreciate me telling you that truth either, but you read it anyway. This I am sure of.

    So what is your next opinion? Is it, you don’t like me expressing my not Orthodox opinion? That opinion will lead the OCA to solution like all the other opinions have. What, my opinion does not lead to solution and the opinions expressed in this thread will or is it you really don’t like my opinion because it is not the Orthodox opinion that cannot provide solution?

    I talk solution and not circular without solution opinion. I argue for your solution. Solution works. Opinion is dust in the wind.

    There is a huge difference between opinion that does not talk solution and opinion that does talk solution. If you are out of solution you will only talk opinion that has no real solution. You will whine, complain and gossip. Real constructive opinion provides solution. It is real world. Yes, I know, you don’t believe I am arguing for you. You think I am arguing against you. That is your opinion that does not provide solution.

    I fully understand, you don’t like my opinion on your opinion. Predicable is that. I like your opinion on my opinion. It tells me how you really THINK and how you really think determines the outcome of the OCA. That is solution centered thinking and not opinion without solution centered thinking. It likes to hear how you think to solution. It likes your opinion and even if it disagrees with it.

    Thank you, for giving me your opinion. I liked it and I did because it reveals so much about how you think to solution. I mean, all of this talk is trying to lead to enpowered solution or is it only powerless opinions?

    Ashley Nevins

    • U write 2 much–its called brevity–use it

    • Ashley:
      You should write everything you know and believe about us in a book
      Who knows?, it may become a best seller in evangelical book stores

      • Ashley Nevins says


        Your response provides no solution. It is circular without solution. Are you about talking solution or are you about whinning, complaining and gossiping about the problems that do not have solution?

        Yes, make me the problem for pointing out the problem and for talking solution. That will lead you to solution? You make me the problem for pointing out the problem and its solution because you do not have a solution to the problems.

        Your comment was not a thinking for yourself comment. It was a something or someone else is thinking for you comment. Here is why I say that…The Orthodox need to write a Orthodox best seller on how to Biblically solve the problem of a corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying EOC.

        Take responsibility for your church and write some books like that. Books like that are thinking for yourself without something or someone else thinking for you.

        There is no need for me to write a book when the books Toxic Faith and The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse have been written. If you search Amazon you will find other similar books in the category. There are also many good books written on church growth that you can research.

        I would encourage you to conduct a Google search on the following subjects, Signs of a Dying Church, Shame Based Churches and Dysfunctional Churches.

        You will notice that the websites and books are highly protesting of corruption and are very self exposing of church problems in the wide open. They are OPEN SYSTEM books and websites. They are ANTI-SELF PROTECTION. Do you understand why that they are?

        You will notice in your research that the Orthodox do not write books like this nor do they have websites like this and I know why. Do you know why? Hint, the CAUSE of the state of your corrupt church failure is a good starting point to understand why. I know what that cause is, do you?

        Your comment was revealing. It told me how you THINK about solution. You don’t THINK about solution. You defensively react rather than offensively move forward to solve the church problems. You do that because your church has rendered you powerless to solve the problems. You are reacting to how I tell you why that you are found in that state.

        The Orthodox live in reaction and not action. A closed system is reaction. It is defensive self protection. An open system is action. It is offensive solutions that work.

        To those who believe I mangle English grammer and language I say, better that than a mangled church. (All my posts are off the top of my head first drafts)

        To those who say I write too much I say, you are going to have to read a lot to find solution. (Hard work is reading to solution – lazy is letting your incompetetent bishops find solution.)

        Both of those responses to my posts are defensive reaction that does not engage in practical real world offensive solutions that work. If that’s the best discussion you can raise I see why your church is in a corrupt and failed state.

        Talk practical real world reality solution and you may well find solution. All this other talk is not going to lead you to solution. Turn your reaction to me and/or your church problems into action that results in a practical relevancy outcome of your church.

        The choice is all Orthodox yours. The Orthodox can either keep reacting to events that take place in their church or they can act to get in front of issues and find solution.

        The problems in your church are the tail wagging the dog.

        Tail wagging the dog responses do not find your church solution.

        Yes, I know, you most likely disagree with my further analysis here of why the EO in America are found in a dying state. If you disagree with offensive action and not defensive reaction you might find that many of the things I tell you are both true and find solution.

        I think for myself therefore I am a Christian. I am a Christian therefore I think for myself.

        That is solution.

        Ashley Nevins

        • Well, if you don’t want to write a book to give your personal message a wider audience,
          have you thought of posting the comments you make here also on OCANews for their edification also?

  21. From the little I knew of +Mark when I attended an Antiochian Midwest parish for a time, he seemed to be a good archpastor, well-liked by both cradle and convert, Arab and non-Arab, aside from the folks in the Detroit area and the cathedral in Toledo. He even seemed to overlook some liturgical oddities (although nothing so “out there” as singing Protestant hymns in place of Orthros), so forcing the use of an Antiochian melody on an OCA parish (St. Seraphim, Dallas) during the Paschal procession, among other things, really surprised me. And saddened me.

    I can only assume that he changed for the worse in the last year or so before he came under the OCA. It’s sad and disheartening, as that’s not the +Mark I had encountered.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      For what it’s worth, at the March for Life a year or two ago, I met the priest who had Fr. Robert Kondratick’s old parish, in Pennsylvania, I think. He said the people there thought Kondratick a great parish priest.

    • I, too, knew Bishop Mark as nothing less than a good bishop and an honorable man. This whole situation–other than the homosexual coup at the OCA–is a mystery to me.

      • Some moose are like that says

        thats the problem for us- there’s always the other side of the story which wasn’t told. I wouldn’t be so quick to vilify anyone who has fallen under the stokoe brand of “light”.

  22. A. Rymlianin says

    Ashley Nevins mangles basic English grammar so badly that she/he should stop contributing gems like ” They only listen to what thinks for them” and”It is your OCA end, and thus ends my thinking for myself in this particular thread conversation.” ” I talk solution and not circular without solution opinion.”

    Some of this thread is difficult enough to understand and follow along with without contributions like this.

    • Pox on All Houses says

      I think Ashley keeps saying the same thing and then adds paragraphs to it in the next downthread iteration. “Word salad” is too kind a description. Thing is, her efforts are wasted, as I stopped reading her a while back, and just cruise on down to the next post.

      This thread is absolutely crawling for me mainly due to her; Tolstoy wasn’t nearly as wordy.

      • Ashley Nevins says

        I am the boy named SUE. Ashley is a male name. I am a male.

        Ashley Nevins

        • Heracleides says

          Now that we’ve cleared that up… why can’t you be as ‘short-winded’ and concise in your other postings?

          • Ashley Nevins says

            Here is the concise solution briefly stated:

            Solution: Think for yourselves to solution and do not allow corruption and failure think for you as your solution.

            Now, how you turn that into practical real world observable solution will take a lot more than one sentence that discribes both the problem and its solution.

            To do that you must:

            1. CONCISELY identify the cause of the problem.
            2. CONCISELY identify the practical solution to the problem.
            3. CONCISELY apply the practical solution to the problem.

            Research to solution is hard work. It requires that you read many words. It is not a process for the lazy, apathetic and indifferent or carnal immature.

            Practical application of research is hard work. It requires spiritual maturity and character that can apply solution. It is not a process for the powerless, those who gossip and those who are circular without solution.

            The CONCISE Orthodox reality check:

            1. Can you tell me what the concise practical real world solution to the corrupt, failed, irrelevant, circular and dying state of EO America is?
            2. Can you tell me how the EO in America are going to concisely move from that state of church to a state of church that is safe, healthy, relational, dynamic, relevant and alive?
            3. Do you have a concise solution that is not circular without solution?

            To answer the questions concisely you must first identify the concise CAUSE.

            Your concise answers that are you thinking for yourself (hopefully) are appreciated.

            Well? What are your concise response to the concise post?

            Ashley Nevins

            • LOL–Here are the solutions.
              1. Write in English, so we can all understand.
              2. Make it brief.
              3. When in doubt, refer to 1 and 2 above.

              • Ashley Nevins says

                No, George, I must now write with Orthodox conciseness that is very similar to Orthodox correctness. The only thing is I don’t know how to speak is precise Ortho-Speak. For some strange reason it is foreign to me.

                I can speak rational Lordship of Christ reasoning that thinks for itself. Will that work? It’s in real English that most any American can understand.

                So, do you have answers to the questions asked of Nikos in the concise reply that I gave him? After all, I did give everyone what they wanted. The concise post.

                Solution: If all else fails refer to the precise post to Nikos.

                Oh, and, BTW, your post did not provide solution to corrupt failure of the EOC in America.

                Ashley Nevins

        • Ashley Nevins says:
          May 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

          I am the boy named SUE. Ashley is a male name. I am a male.

          Is that a circular with or without a solution?

          • Ashley Nevins says

            Only for those poor girls that get a boys name like Ashley.

            Good one on your part. Funny.

            Keep them coming.

            Ashley Nevins

            • Good to hear you laugh, Ashley!
              That made my day!

              • Ashley Nevins says


                Glad that made your day. Now make my day and answer the 3 questions in the concise post you asked for and received. I promise to fully analyze your answers with conciseness and brief explanation that comes right to the point.

                If you don’t have answers simply say so. No answer tells me you have no answer and therefore no real solution. Stating you don’t have the solution is starting at zero. Not stating it is a blank slate. I would rather start at zero than with a blank slate. At least I have a zero on the slate not leaving it blank.

                Zero is an incredable place to start. It really is. You get to think for yourself and think it all the way through with zero as the starting point. It takes admitting zero to start.

                Starting at zero means you have to think for yourself by innovation to change to relevancy. You have to re-think the whole paradigm of your church by thinking for yourself to solution from zero. Zero is humility. A blank slate is apathy and indifference.

                Admitting you have no solution is not shame in failure that condemns. It is the starting point of change to solution. It is positive and not negative. It is success over failure. You start where you truly are.

                Humility (zero) leads to listening and listening leads to opportunity to innovate to change to relevancy. Starting at zero gives you potential to find solution. A blank slate leads to less than zero. It is death of a church. It is a church that cannot admit it does not have solution and that it cannot find solution. It cannot write zero on its blank slate.

                When all of you come to the end of yourselves and run out of yourselves as the solution then maybe you will come to the humility of zero and start the process of finding solution by starting at zero.

                Zero listens. It has come to the end of itself as its own solution and seeks solution outside of itself. It is humble. Blank slate does not listen. What has not come to the end of itself as its own solution only listens to itself as its own solution. It is proud.

                I just nailed the problem that the Orthodox have. You have not come to the end of yourselves as the solution and so you are without solution from God who is to be our only solution. You have not come to ZERO as your solution and until you do you will not find solution.

                Ashley Nevins

                • What???

                  • Ashley Nevins says

                    Are you asking for the definition of ‘What’?

                    The post is about coming to the end of yourselves. God begins when we end.

                    That’s what.

                    Ashley Nevins

  23. Mary Beth says

    Can we come back full circle please. Why did +Mark steal Fr Fester’s emails? Why did the Synod feel justified in playing a part along with MS in the theft which has resulted in trying to destroy Fr Fester? What really is driving this Synod and their boy Stokoe in this “blood lust” against Fr Fester?

    And what is the reason the DC Nuns are being kicked out? What did they do wrong? What is the Synod’s beef with a group of nuns who have done nothing wrong and have brought such joy and service to the people of St. Nicholas Cathedral?

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Mary Beth, it’s not what “they did wrong” but what they know about certain bishops in the present synod that makes them dangerous. The truth always comes out, just not on our timetables.

      • No, George, maybe it’s what they know about Fr. Joseph Fester!

        Mary Beth, re: Fr. Joseph, see my comment #196.

        The DC nuns did not have a canonical release from their Bishop, so HB was out of bounds in receiving them, regardless of what his intentions might have been (and I presume until proven otherwise that he was well intentioned).

        • Metropolitan Jonah may have been out of bounds if he *had* received them into the OCA without a release, but he didn’t. He certainly sheltered them and ministered to them as he can do for anyone who is an Orthodox Christian, and he certainly did hope to receive them into the OCA. Sadly, it didn’t work out. Unless those nuns were under excommunication or something, though, Metropolitan Jonah didn’t cross a line, they were merely under the authority of a Greek bishop the whole time.

          I for one would like to know what sent Bishop Melchisedek to Greece to begin with. Something doesn’t add up about that.

          • Actually Helga, I’m sorry I haven’t been paying close attention to the situation about the nuns and the only thing that registered (perhaps erroneously) at some point was that there wasn’t the appropriate release. I know nothing about Bp. Melchisedek’s trip, etc. Sorry, if it ends up this detail in my comments has been nothing more than a distraction. It wasn’t my intent to disseminate incorrect information, but to correct what I sincerely thought was a misunderstanding. Apologies to all.

          • Anonymous says

            There have never been any negative comments associated with anything related to Bishop Melchisedek or his service to our Church before this “mess” He is a very humble, quiet, and peaceful servant of God and a caring shepherd to his diocese.


            • Wow, Anonymous, that’s an impressive resume. That along with Fr. Peter’s (Bilbedorf) testimony from first-hand knowledge of the bishop certainly predisposes me to trust the man.

              • O Hamartolos says

                I’m inclined to trust the man, myself. But, I think he has been placed in an awkward position by those who want an awkward situation. Jesse’s remark on OCAT is very reasonable and revealing about the double standard within the MC and HS. They tell MJ that in his diocese he cannot house nuns by other bishops, yet they tell him not to meddle in the affairs of the South. They tell him his job is too taxing (12 parishes, and after last week’s “resultions” an office job in syossett), thus he is not allowed to act as a Locum Tenens. Yet bishop Melchisadec with 46 parishes is asked to be the interim chancelor (a full time job). And Nikon, a venerable yet ailing heirarch with 40 parishes is asked to take his frail body all around the South on a grueling schedule. My fear is that Bishop Nikon and Melchisadec are being played by the loudest mouths in the OCA right now (MS and BB). They are also, perhaps, acting in good faith and genuinely want to see the proper order of the church once and for all, established. Yet, what is normal proper order? Has there every been proper order in the OCA? Was not Met. Theodosios the first Metropolitan of the OCA? Then from the get go, there has never been any proper order. Their only model for “order” is the disorder of the last 30-40 years. And that’s what they are unconsciously trying to get back to, those good old days when the Metropolitan was a figure head that had tea with patriarchs, doled out grammatons, served quietly at St. Tikhon’s, and never really led the bishops. If all the synod wants is a figure head with no real mandate to lead, they should take MS’s plan and amend the “constitution” or whatever it is called, to say that the metropolitanate will be rotated on a 6 month basis. Thus, everybody gets a chance to wear the white hat.

                Jesse, you’re right. We have legitimate questions. We need straightforward answers.

                Is the contents of bishop Nicolai’s letter true? If so, how long have they known?

                Why has not the obvious plot to take out MJ by MS and co. not been dealt with as swiftly as Fr. Joseph Fester’s case?

                Why have you not asked the very high profile, blogger/activist MS to address the allegations against him that he is married to a person of the same sex? Why do you allow the people to be so scandalized for so long instead of putting rumors and innuendo to rest?

                When did you learn that Bishop Mark leaked Fr. Joseph’s emails? Did he come to you first? If so, how was it that such personal information came to be posted on

                If he went to OCAN first, why was not Bishop Mark not disciplined for such an egregious act unbecoming of a bishop? He contradicts his own words by spreading gossip and causing scandal, rather than going first to you, our archpastors.

                These are just a few of the questions I have. But we need answers, we need accountability.

                I suspect the law has gotten to MS and that is why he has been very silent, only posting one singular post by a Matushka who praises him.

                • O, Harmartolos,

                  You ask good questions, and I hope we get some answers to these as well. I tried to comment over a week ago at OCAnews site and he has only posted that one comment as you have noted.

        • Mary Beth says

          Sorry Karen the DC nuns do have a canonical release. How would you think otherwise? Who’s shill are you? What nonsense of +Mel are you peddling?

          • Sorry, Mary Beth, I’m not a shill. That was a report I remembered reading somewhere and thought it was accurate. I’m sorry if that was a mistaken notion. I’ll do some checking to see where that came from–perhaps someone else knows. Do you have a reference or documentation about the appropriate release?

            • Mary Beth says

              Ask the DC Nuns or Jonah.

              • Is that where you got the information? I see Helga had the same impression I did. I also do not understand the Synod’s decision if this was not the case. Even with the new restrictions in the wake of the last Synod meeting, Met. Jonah is free to do as he sees fit within his own Diocese within its means and within the canons of the Church, I would think.

                I do not know Bp. Mel. and, in fact, am relatively new to both Orthodoxy and the OCA. Not sure what that has to do with anything. Perhaps you are the real shill here?

                • Oh, Karen, especially if you are new to Orthodoxy and the OCA, please be more careful with your words and what you say to people.

                  • Rachel, point well taken. Thanks. I’m afraid I haven’t done too well at following your advice, though, so forgive me.

                    Mary Beth, forgive me for asking if you were the shill. That was snarky and unnecessary.

                    For the record, I was sincerely under the impression the nuns did not *yet* have a canonical release from their bishop in Greece to stay and set up a monastery here, which if I am understanding now (big if), *is* technically accurate. I didn’t mean to imply that Met. Jonah did anything inappropriate in exploring that possibility with them in the good faith hope they would get the appropriate release and offering them hospitality until it was settled, though I can see it would have been easy to interpret my initial comment on this that way because of my brevity.

          • Wait – the nuns DID have a canonical release? What was the problem with them being in DC, then?

            • The problem might be the financial support of a new monastery when we already have monasteries that have unmet needs at this time. Prepare for shameless advertising. ;^)
              Please consider financially supporting the married student housing project at St. Tikhon’s.

              • Monastics are sustained by the hand of God, so I wouldn’t think the synod should be too concerned about it.

                But as long as we’re plugging seminaries, don’t forget the married student housing project at St. Vladimir’s, which the school has been anxious to finish paying off. 🙂

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                My diocese (that being Washington DC) has no monasteries. We were really happy to have the nuns there and now . . .

                Of course we would have given them plenty of support since they would have been the first monastery established there. The bishops shouldn’t have worried too much about this whole issue.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mary Beth, be very careful with the whole idea of “canonical release.” It will soon come out that one of the bishops of the OCA does not have a canonical release as well.

        • Just seen on OCAT: Nun Joana recently tonsured by +Jonah, fell asleep in the Lord this morning. Memory Eternal!
          In OCAT words: “The nun’s story became unfortunate ammunition against the Metropolitan. Hopefully her life and struggle for salvation will help us put our own lives into perspective. ” And I used to wonder how they are going to take her to Greece …. but the Lord has taken care of His child.

          • She wasn’t part of the “DC Nuns” thing from what I understood, just a layperson on her deathbed who wanted to live as a monastic until she died. That was another reason it was nuts for Stokoe to use it as “Ammo” against His Beatitude.

            • I also got the impression she wasn’t from Greece; Metropolitan Jonah just put her with this community because his mindset is very much into communal monasticism, so he would feel that she would need a monastic community, and he was hoping the nuns would be able to stay. Glory to God that these nuns were at least able to stay long enough to accompany their sister as she finished the race.

              If the nun Joana has found her rest in the arms of God, I ask her to intercede before the Lord on behalf of Jonah the metropolitan and the whole OCA. May her memory be eternal!

              • My apologies for not expressing myself more clearly: yes, she wasn’t from Greece. I just assumed she would have preferred to stay with people who became her family. But that would not have been possible. As for me, I shall remember her face full of joy and peace when I saw her last time at the Holy Thursday liturgy. The face of a person seeing God face to face. Given that she was in a wheelchair with an oxigen tank …. well … that just made me think how petty my own concerns were (and are, for that matter)

                • I have goose bumps and thank you for that image/vision. It’s so much more beautiful and worthy of praise. 🙂

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    I saw her at the Paschal services, to the right side with the nuns. Yes, she was there for the whole service. What a blessing for her to have been with her fellow monastics.

        • George, I see I totally convoluted your statement talking about what the nuns know about some members of the Synod, such that in my mind I thought you were talking about what the Synod knew about the nuns. Hence my comment that “No, it was what they knew about Fr. Joseph. . . . ” My “they” was referring to the Synod, not the nuns. I must have been reading too late at night, but in case anyone was wondering and totally confused by my nonsense–that’s what I meant to challenge, not what George actually said. Sorry, folks! Glad to see most of you know when to ignore me in these instances!

    • What really is driving this Synod and their boy Stokoe in this “blood lust” against Fr Fester?

      Hatred and/or revenge, or both – what else could it be ?

  24. I think it’s time for an outside consultant. Check this out! They even have on-line secure help.

    • Ashley Nevins says


      Dale Wolery who leads this website and ministry is one of the finest Christian men I have ever met. I met him many years ago. This ministry and man are one of five I would recommend to the Orthodox to research. This an excellent out of the gate selection on your part. Follow the links he provides to others who can provide solution.

      Look up by Google search Dale Ryan and Jeff Van Vonderen. They are good friends of Dale Wolery. Your search will tell you why I ask you to look them up by Google. These men were at the center of a 20 year paradigm shift that has led the bottom up and open system church into new relevancy to our society and generation. They are pro-test-ant revolutionaries of transformation to innovation to change to relevancy to alive church. Avoid their thinking at all costs! These men know how to paradigm shift a church into relevancy in our generation. Like me, they also read the heretic of paradigm shift BARNA!!!

      Be careful when you read them. They are all heretics to Orthodoxy with the potential to turn the EO into that heresy. Look at their websites to see how dangerous to Orthodoxy that they are. These are men who expose the church and bring healing to the church both at the same time. They are men of Christian maturity and character in leadership. That makes them highly dangerous to the Orthodox hierarchies that are leading the EOC into insignificant irrelevancy. These men are significant relevancy in the church that they speak into.

      You all are being fairly warned. I have met them all, have networked with them and know them and so since I do you know for sure how dangerous that they are. They are sharp edge of the cutting edge. Don’t get around them or they might cut into you and open you up with that sharp edge. No telling what they may expose! All of you know that if you look into western rational Christianity for concepts, ideas and solutions that will only lead to Martin like thinking coming into your church and turning it into a rational modernity version of the Reformation. You had all better stay with the solutions you have or you might become a church in failure by heresy that leads to church failure.

      Ashley Nevins

  25. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Hi George

    I didn’t want to write on this matter anymore, but it just occured to me. Bishop Mark is an Auxillary Bishop to Metropolitan Jonah. If Met. Jonah is removed or leaves in some fashion would not Bishop Mark take his role, at least temporarily, as Metropolitan of the OCA? Just thinking out loud. I don’t know.

    Also, if that this is true, which I do not know for sure, its very interestingt that Bishop Mrk would be placed so close to the Metropolitan’s seat. Again, just thinking out loud. I’ll go back to just observing.


    • If Met. Jonah is removed or leaves in some fashion would not Bishop Mark take his role, at least temporarily, as Metropolitan of the OCA? Just thinking out loud. I don’t know.

      Not likely. The Statute says that when there is a vacancy in the office of Metropolitan, the bishop senior by rank and date of consecration convenes the Holy Synod. They declare the vacancy and elect a locum tenens for the Metropolitan see. The locum tenens would then prepare for an All-American Council to be held within three months of the vacancy in order to elect a new Metropolitan. Bishop Mark would probably be one of the least likely to be elected locum tenens because he’s only been in the OCA for a few months, and has spent most of that time in Dallas.

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Christ is Risen!

        It has been the custom of our church for the senior hierarch to be the locum tenens as when Abp. Dmitri memorably filled that role between the resignation of Met. Herman and the election of Met. Jonah. I found several aspects of that quite moving.

        • Indeed He is risen, Fr. Yousuf. That’s true, but the senior hierarch is not automatically appointed locum tenens; the statute calls for an election.

          I did love that Archbishop Dmitri was the locum tenens then, though. I am fond of listening to the AFR recording of the announcement of Met. Jonah’s election. The Archbishop’s wise words then still bring tears to my eyes. I also love this picture from the enthronement in December.

          • George Michalopulos says

            +Dmitri was truly an inspiration. +Jonah was the only bishop who had the same vision coupled with humility. Sigh.

            • Metropolitan Jonah has a bit of a bloody nose, that’s true. But he’s still here, he still has friends, and now he now knows who the bad guys are. Also, he can slap an Arius if things get down to it. Go +Jonah!

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Helga, you’re right. The fact that they tried to take him out and failed is a major victory for those of us who agree with a more traditional vision.

                • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                  You know George, despite not always seeing eye to eye, I was rather enjoying having had a moment where Helga and I were appreciating the same things.

                  Of course, you had to remind us that you will not merely have affection for Abp. Dmitri and Met. Jonah, but you will build them up at the expense of others. It’s not your love for them, it’s your disdain for everybody else that gets me, and your blithe assumption that the traditional vision is the dispute.

                  In fact, virtue and love of tradition are not the sole property of your corner of the DoS or the bishops popular in your partisan stance.

                  I am afraid that it must now be plainly stated: what in this controversy sets off Abp. Dmitri and Met. Jonah is not tradition or adherence to the Church’s teachings on morality. It is that through an excess of goodness and trust, they have both at times been duped into allowing Fr. Fester to insinuate himself as the éminence grise.

                  • Heracleides says

                    Having gotten that off your chest Father, perhaps you will now speak to how your own bishop, Benjamin, has allowed himself to be duped into partnering with Mrs. Mark Stokoe in setting the agenda for the Synod. (Nope, didn’t think so…)

                    • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                      Hera. ,

                      Typical tu quoque from those who drunk well at the OCA Truth fountain of innuendo.

                      Bp. Benjamin has not been duped by Stokoe into anything, nor do you have evidence of such, they don’t often share the same agenda, and neither of them separately, nor both together can control the Synod.

                      In imaginary universes of conspiracy theories, everyone who remains firmly on planet earth seems part of the conspiracy.

                      For the record, Bp. Benjamin likes to call the dueling websites OCA Izvestiya (News) and OCA Pravda (Truth). As they used to say about newspapers in the USSR, there’s no truth in “The News”; and no news in “The Truth”.

                      Would you like to try a civil, personal discussion of evidence with using our real names? I would try to find the time.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Fr Yousuf, my”affection” for +Dmitri and +Jonah are based partly on the normal human interactions that men of good will engage in to be sure, but also on the evangelical dynamism that the DoS was known for. I haven’t wanted to “disdain” others, I just commented on what I knew.

                    Truth be told, I didn’t know what a sorry shape the rest of the OCA was until I read Fr Hopko’s indictment from back in 2006 (and then, I didn’t read it until a year or so ago). His jaundiced indictment has indeed colored my view. If I have been led astray in my thinking, then I would ask Fr Hopko to state if things are different now.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says


        Always have an eye out for the things we do NOT see. That’s all.


        • Well, true, but Bishop Mark can’t even wrap his mind around Obikhod chant. What would he do as locum tenens? It would be like electing the emperor’s twelve-year-old nephew.

          Nah, if anything happens to Met. Jonah, I think you’d see the one of the appalled four become locum tenens, and probably the “new” Metropolitan after that.

          (Edited to be a bit more charitable. My cynicism is starting to show.)

        • Chris Plourde says

          One thing I don’t see: An explanation for how the DOS has managed to avoid having its own Bishop for nearly two-and-a-half years.

          Bishop Dimitri retired effective March 31, 2008. 7 months later, on November 1 the DOS formally installed its new Bishop, Jonah.

          Bishop Jonah was elevated to Metropolitan just days later, on November 12, and installed in DC on December 28, 2008.

          So let’s start the clock ticking on January 1, 2009. It’s now mid-May, 2011, and the DOS seems no closer to installing a Bishop than when Jonah moved to DC.


          • O Hamartolos says

            We like to really get to know our candidates. They may look good on paper, but we like for them to get a good look at us and us at them. That’s the process we went through with Jonah. As our Locum Tenens he took care of us and in that very …..sad/joyous time, that is what we needed. We did not need to be rushed into a relationship we would later regret. As recent revelations have emerged, I think we did the wisest thing we could have. There simply aren’t many prospects that we have really felt too excited about. Most everybody, even priests, couldn’t name even one of the “candidates”. Met. Jonah was wise to send Mark in the manner he did. That is the way were are accustomed to: A time to get to know him is what we needed. We have known him and it is not a good fit. Period. No need for reconciliation. Forgiveness, yes. Reconciliation, a second try…NO. That is that we roll. So, I would vote for us to wait for a more suitable candidate to emerge. You know where my vote is: Fr. Gerasim.

          • No, Archbishop Dmitri didn’t retire until March 31, 2009. Met. Jonah’s twelve-day adventure in which he was consecrated, served as auxiliary bishop, and unexpectedly elected Metropolitan, all happened a full five months before Abp. Dmitri retired.

            • Chris Plourde says


              Right you are, the dates for Bishop Dimitri are 2009, not 2008. Credit my bad eyes.

              Thus, instead of 2 years 4.5 months, it’s really 2 years 1.5 months that the DOS has been without its own bishop.

              My point remains: That’s a long time without a bishop.

  26. I’ve always believed that one should never use e-mail when communicating things you don’t want discussed by others…just sayin’

    • PS – because this stuff happens all.the.time. No crime in being stupid I guess, but you all can chew on this until there is no flavor left and none of you will know anymore than you did yesterday. I started counting how many times the words “if” has been stated, but I lost count. Someone said once “if grasshoppers had machine guns, birds would leave them alone…”

  27. Interestingly, of all the comments in this section, mine and now Helga’s are the only ones without a Reply button affixed.

    I wrote, in blindingly obvious irony:
    “Given this, I’m a bit puzzled by your lack of confidence in the Church’s traditional theology of the Mysteries. If they are approaching the Chalice unworthily, why not content yourself with the hope that God will punish them with serious illness or death? Be not faithless, but believe. . .”

    Helga replied:
    “Sorry, but I find this remark revolting. First, God is not our personal hitman. If they were to partake unworthily once or a thousand times, it’s God’s prerogative to determine what that would do.”

    Question for you: do you find the form of the remark revolting, or the substance of the attitude it ironically points to? In any case, I agree, God is not our personal hitman. Many of y’all seem very keen, however, to arrogate that role jealously to yourselves, insofar as you can do that within the letter of the law.

    “Second, love does not allow us to say,”

    Love, you say? That’s pretty rich. A lot of love evident around here, all right.

    “They may be sinning, but it’s okay for the church administration to not do anything about it, because God will be their judge.”

    Ever heard of the fallacy of begging the question? Assuming what is to be demonstrated? You have no good reason for this suspicion. Next to nothing but the rampant cascade of logismoi issuing from malicious minds around here (and no doubt elsewhere in your sorry little cliques) is behind assumptions that “they may be sinning.” Y’all have no evidence. It’s all in your heads. Your twisted “faith” is the evidence of things unseen, the substance of what you clearly hope for. You and some others here supply abundant grounds to suspect that you’d be utterly disconsolate should it turn out that Mark Stokoe is in fact impeccably chaste and innocent of your charges.

    “If that were the case, there is no point to having canons or administration, or spiritual fatherhood, or anything like that. There would be no need for the bishop to charge his priests to protect the Lamb until the second coming, as he does at their ordinations.”

    “It’s the responsibility of their priest, their bishop, and the Synod to defend the faith and say, “Sexually-active homosexuals cannot come to the chalice,”

    If I were your priest, I would defend the faith and say, “Malicious, scandal-mongering, unloving and unrepentant gossips and slanderers cannot come to the Chalice.”

    “…because they are supposed to do all they can to avoid things coming to the point where someone partakes unworthily. The fact that partaking unworthily brings spiritual harm does not absolve anyone from their responsibility towards the Lord and towards our brothers.”

    The heart-felt benevolence and compassion for your brother implied here is touching. If completely incredible.

    “If you were loading groceries into your car and a man came up to you saying, “I haven’t eaten in days, and I am so weak from hunger, I fear I will die. Will you please help me get something to eat?” would you be right to say, “You’re not trusting God! Matthew 6:26, read it!” Of course not. God is providing for him through you.”

    “Likewise, rebuking Stokoe and Brown means giving them opportunities to turn from their sinful lifestyle and repent.”

    Again, what “sinful lifestyle”? What evidence do you have for that slander? I’ll ask you what I asked the good and worshipful Fr. Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell: got videos? Want some?

    “They would not be condemned if no one ever told them they were sinning. But now that they hear the Gospel being preached, they will know.”

    Your coda is more telling than you know, evidently. Amazing.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mike, you’re being smarmy. You use the supposed weaknesses of other people on this site (“malicious,” “gossip-mongers,” etc.) to excuse the real sins of those who have destroyed a priest (Joe Fester), tried to take down a metropolitan, slander hims (“are you still crazy, Jonah? go check yourself into a loony bin until further notice), capriciously punish another priest (John Anderson) and gossip (excuse me –strategize) how they are going to do so.

      • ‘Smarmy’ is not an adjective that even remotely applies to the post. Apparently you misunderstood it.

        I’m used to higher resolution discussions and prefer to participate in them with persons who value and have therefore cultivated an intellectual conscience. That’s seems to be lacking here, too often. So I’m pretty close to bailing. I think I’ve heard enough.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mike, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is not an intellectual discussion. People are hurt, hurting as they see something and someones they deeply value being hurt or destroyed. People are mad (perhaps both meanings apply). Maybe we shouldn’t be, but we are.

          Yea, too much mud, bloviating and redundancy, but way beyond any intellectual discussion

          smarm·y   /ˈsmɑrmi/ [smahr-mee]
          –adjective, smarm·i·er, smarm·i·est.
          excessively or unctuously flattering, ingratiating, servile, etc.: the emcee with the smarmy welcome.
          Use smarmy in a Sentence
          See images of smarmy
          Search smarmy on the Web


          1905–10; smarm, variant of dial. smalm to smear, make slick (< ?) + -y1

          —Related forms
          smarm·i·ly, adverb

          You're correct, your post was not smarmy, however it was unctious.

          Those near Dayton who are concerned should go to Mr. Stokoe in private and ask him. If he affirms the rumors and wishes to persist in his sinfulness. Well, we all know the rest.

          I've said from the beginning and repeately since, that if there is proof of any actionable offense by Met. Jonah, where is it? The lack of proof and the miasmic spew that has continued to issue forth against Met. Jonah has created its own miasma in return. That is what happens when the scapegoating mentality is unleased in a community. Everyone gets dragged into the dark vortex of accusation/reaction/counter accustion: an infinite regression into the darkness. That is what Stokoe and his friends unleashed–whether he is homosexual or not.

          That does not excuse the rest of us, but I believe it to be factual. He unleashed it in a community that was already unstable, unhealthy and prone to Byzantine machinations and many, many internal divisions. He will likely be brought down by the monsters he has forced into the open.

          This is not about Met. Jonah, the Synod, Mark Stokoe, OCATruth, or this website. It is about the utter failure to be Christian in ourselves, in our parishes and certainly in our national organizations. That applies to Greek, Antioch, Russia, Romanians, etc, etc.

          As much as I hate to say it, Ashely is not altogether wrong. While we are not what he says we are in toto, we are certainly acting as if we love the created thing more than the creator.

        • Heracleides says

          Mikey, *do* let tha door hit yer “intellectual” arse on tha wah outta hea… (How’s that for smarmy!)

        • A Remnant says

          Mike says:
          May 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

          ‘Smarmy’ is not an adjective that even remotely applies to the post. Apparently you misunderstood it.

          I’m used to higher resolution discussions and prefer to participate in them with persons who value and have therefore cultivated an intellectual conscience. That’s seems to be lacking here, too often. So I’m pretty close to bailing. I think I’ve heard enough.

          Kinda appears you are unarmed for this kinda intellectual battle, good time to leave!

  28. Ashley Nevins says

    If Mark is chaste and innocent then he can address that issue in public and since he is leading in full view of the public. He stepped into the glass house and when you live in the glass house you explain to people what is going on in it when they question what they see. Unfortunately, some EO do not understand this basic principle of Christian leadership.

    Anyone in his position of influence and authority accussed of being gay and living in a homosexual marriage lifestyle needs to come clean either way. It’s called integrity and crediability in transparency and accountability. This would be easily resolved if the OCA was a true Matthew 18 church. Instead, it is more and more looking like a Romans 1 church. Here is a novel concept. If all else fails read and apply your Bibles. You will be amazed at how many of these problems will simply vanish right before your very eyes if you do.

    Your Bible also makes for an excellent resource in the vetting of leaders like Mark. If the leaders are vetted properly before they are made leaders you stand a much better chance of issues like this not coming up, let alone threatening the very existence of the OCA. The Bible is a book of prevention. It is designed to get the church in front of issues to raise the church up and so that it is not found lagging behind issues that can bring the church down. How are the OCA laity men of God using it in their church to prevent issue like this and to bring solution to the church self destruction?

    Every post made about the OCA debacle and all the pain, suffering, fear and discouragement around its disaster could have been avoided by Biblical application of preventitive measures that keep the church transparent and accountable and therefore safe and healthy. You are all reaping what you sowed. You did not sow Biblical prevention. You sowed your own church destruction.

    Wouldn’t it just be exciting if all of this talk about the corruption and failure of the OCA was instead talk about its mission to people groups without the Gospel, new ministry that is cutting edge relevant to the wounded and broken, who you are praying salvation for, prayer for your personal needs and what are you all going to do since your church is growing larger and faster than your ability to keep up with it, etc., etc., etc.?


    Ashley Nevins

    • Et tu, Ashley?

      If Mark is chaste and innocent then he can address that issue in public and since he is leading in full view of the public.

      His priest admits him to the Eucharist. As I and a few others have pointed out, the question you and others obsessively raise is therefore not a legitimate public issue —given that he is clearly in communion with the Church. All of that is between him, his confessor and God. Canonically, it’s simply none of your business. That should end the discussion among Orthodox. What don’t you people get about this? It ain’t complicated.

      • I don’t agree. Your statement would be acceptable if MS would be a private faithful of his parish. However, he is member of the MC and thus a public figure. His private life and the questions about his possible living contrary to church teaching is, therefore, a public matter. He is required to lay any rumours to rest… or leave office.

        • Ashley Nevins says

          It ain’t that complicated unless the evil one complicates it by undermining the authority of Gods Word by using a Cannon of the church against the church. He is diobolically ruthless and he will use anything to deceive the church away from the authority of the Bible as our moral and ethical standard of transparency and accountability. Yes, I know the deceived disagree.

          All of us are to be held transparent and accountable to God the Holy Spirit rule over the church first. The transparency and accountability of Christ takes priority over all else in the church no matter what any Orthodox thinks by Cannon or Tradition think.

          Obviously Cannon and Tradition think are not working. If all else fails use Ephesians chapter 4 to think for yourself as your holy authority and not what is corrupt authority that cannot submit to the word of God first. Since when does Cannon or Tradition take moral and ethical authority over the Bible? Those who claim to have written the Bible can’t apply the Bible to their church? Has something or someone replaced that authority in Gods only alone right and one true church of Gods Biblical authority?

          Is what Romans 1 exposes in authority or is Ephesians 4 and Matthew 18? Is Ephesians the authority here or some Orthodox opinion on the Cannons? I would say that person using the Cannon just put a cannon to his head and pulled the trigger.

          If anything other than Biblical moral and ethical authority is held up as the ethical and moral standard then the church is turned into a class and/or caste structure and system of church where the one class or caste is not held transparent and accountable for the power and control it has.

          Mark is part of that special untouchable class or caste of power and control along with the bishop minions under his defacto Met power and control, and he is under the power and control of Satan as the defacto Met/Synod who is in rule power and control over the whole church. What, none of you can see his rule power and control leading the scandal of the OCA? Does a Cannon keep some from seeing him? Does the evil one now hide behind the Cannons of the church!?! Looks like it to me that the individual who made that Cannon claim believes that.

          Tell me Cannon expert who believes the Cannon trumps the authority of Gods Word, is evil leading the church into this failure or is God leading the church into this failure. Better not reveal that in the wide open or it might violate a Cannon? That is Twight Zone thinking of spiritual reality if that be the thinking of those in the OCA. I don’t believe all do believe that, but I do believe that it is desperately pathetic to use a Cannon over Gods Word as the authority of transparency and accountability in the church.

          What does it tell any Christian outside of your church when the OCA laymen of God are not revolting against this and leading a revolution of holiness by their salvation over this? Do they have real salvation? Do they have a real church based upon real salvation? Those are the questions I think for myself think to ask when I see this width, depth and level of church failure.

          Ashley Nevins

        • Harry Coin says

          I think Joseph is correct in that accepting higher office requires a higher standard than being admitted to communion by the priest. Lots of folks are admitted to communion who for all manner of reasons can’t be clergy, can’t serve in higher church office.

          However I think Joseph is incorrect that Mark should consider speaking for himself in this matter in public. I’ve been reading here long enough to know that many wouldn’t believe him no matter what he said, that his speaking to this subject, even if forcefully and truthfully, putting the matter to rest and the critics to shame would be overlooked by the sharks and used merely as a platform on which to observe Mark is “being self-serving”. You all certainly know who you are.

          Likewise the many who like reading Mark’s work would prefer not to believe he’s capable of so much as stepping on a bug between his house and his car, they don’t want it to end and so don’t want to hear anything on the subject because of the aforementioned ‘shark activity’.

          The right answer is for a third party who is a church official connected with the Metropolitan Council or an oca offical to put the matter to rest.

          • The right answer is for a third party who is a church official connected with the Metropolitan Council or an oca offical to put the matter to rest.

            Harry, good point. However, we have, I think, now reached the point that even that person or committee would not be trusted by all any more…. Lord have mercy.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mike, your analysis falls flat. Arius was in communion with his church, as was Nestorius, Eutychus, etc. To be sure, the appearance of orthopraxy is upheld by the fact that his priest communes him and that is not for nothing. However the scandal of his gossip-mongering have led many honest people to question the fruits of his piety. (Don’t forget, three months ago I didn’t know diddly-squat about MS and accepted a lot of what OCAN wrote without a whole lotta question. )

        The vicious attack on +Jonah caused me to question what I felt to be true. Then when I read Bobosh’s sophisticated exegesis on what a not really big deal homosexuality is, well, then I had to ask myself some really tough questions.

        • George, good to hear I’m not the only one – I felt compelled to go on-line and check what was really going on only after hearing +Jonah saying “I’m still your metropolitan”. OCA web-site explained nothing and OCAN version clashed with my own experience of +Jonah (and with it’s own header “Orthodox Christians for Accountability”).
          BWT, OCAN is not publishing anything after putting up a letter from the Parich Counsel, not even comments ….

        • George, one word for you: projection. Look into the concept. Then read Romans chapter 2. Tu quoque.

      • Gregg Gerasimon says


        I have similar concerns as you, but what concerns me more is a dangerous precedent that could be set.

        Many people who don’t know and have never met MS have declared him married to another man, or claim that he is receiving Holy Communion or the sacraments inappropriately, or whatever. He is left with the strange predicament to “prove to us that you’re not married to a man or not actively homosexual” when he has never, ever publicly said anything on the subject. Yes, yes, I know, the all-telling death announcement, which for all we know could have been written by an estranged sister who also may know nothing about his personal situation.

        In Orthodoxy, we don’t share common property anymore, we don’t share common money and belongings, and with the disappearance of all that has also seen the disappearance of public confession in the church. Private confession and daily personal struggle has been the norm in the church for years. Apparently, though, in this case, private confession and the trust between a communicant and his/her priest is not adequate? I find that astounding — after all, where would it stop? If someone has an axe to grind with a bishop or a prominent priest or a prominent layman in the future, could that person simply be publicly accused of something like flaunting the church’s teachings on homosexuality and then be asked to prove that they’re worthy to be a communicant in Christ’s Church? Prove it to whom?

        Would we have a “purity panel” of self-appointed lay people and maybe a few deacons and priests whose job it would be to monitor American Orthodoxy so that those who are receiving Holy Communion are deemed to be “worthy” of it, because we no longer trust that certain priests or bishops are doing it adequately? This is crazy. Last I checked, none of us were worthy of receiving holy communion, even if we did go to confession and vespers the night before and even if we post 1000 postings here denouncing the evils of homosexuality. We can never merit these gifts — we are always reliant on God’s grace.

        Would it become a policy of this “purity panel” that all Orthodox Christians must be married before the age of 30, or they must go to a monastery to avoid sexual temptations? Would single men and women over the age of 40 be deemed by the “purity panel” to be gay until proven otherwise, unless they are widow(er)s?

        It may sound crazy, but I see the beginnings of a “purity panel” here. I’ve never met Mark, probably never will. But just like the thousands of other Orthodox Christians in this country, whether he is worthy to be a communicant in Christ’s church is between him, his priest/confessor, and God. Whether he posts facts or engages in public commentary on issues facing our American church is irrelevant.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Greg, it is irrelevant as long as there is a community of trust and a community willing to bear one another’s burdens. That assumption and reality seem to be under a great deal of strain within the OCA with all of the garbage that has been brought to light (real and imagined). Mr. Stokoe had, and continues to have a great deal of responsibility for stiring the muck. He will get a lot on him even if he is a saint.

          He has essentially force the issue on ‘purity’ by his tactics. That is what scapegoating is all about after all–finding the least pure among us and driving them out. It never ends.

          The digression of the scapegoating Stokoe began into the morass it has become is almost inevitable without clear, strong, consistent leadership. But that’s the problem isn’t it?

        • Chris, there are too many posts here, so I can’t reply in thread to you or Fr. Hans. I’m not really surprised by his poor reading of points I tried pretty hard to make clear, or the non sequiturs, or the projections and straw men and red herrings, etc. I’ve come to expect this sort of thing.

          Intellectual corruption is rampant in this country and in the Church. Priests are just as subject to it as the rest of us, clearly. I thought that being on the lookout against eisegesis was something they taught in seminary. Evidently he missed that class.

          I’m done here. I’ve heard enough, and it’s very disturbing. For what it’s worth I’ve appreciated your posts. You and Karen and some others strike me as eminently fair-minded and sound in your thinking. Keep the faith, in the Gospel and in reason.

        • Greg, I hear you. Bad precedent, all right. Church order hurled straight out the window: hypocrisy and mediocrity is enthroned.

        • Harry Coin says

          When a person accepts to make church decisions on behalf of others and that impact and reflect on others, you accept that you are not going to give the appearance of impropriety. It’s all up and down the Gospel and canons. Certainly the Metropolitan Council of the OCA qualifies as such a leadership position. This isn’t about ‘cameras in the bedroom’ and ‘we all have our sins to work on’ and ‘its between him and his pastor’– because we’re not speaking here about actual misdoing or proof of misdoing, but giving people looking from the outside occasion to stumble.

          In this case we have an obituary, and creditable documents such as an election donation form and others that make it a reasonable inference a person on the OCA’s Metropolitan council lives as if married but not being married in the church. The OCA needs to issue a statement of clarification if all’s well, or a quiet separation if there is a problem and it isn’t going to be addressed.

          The main purpose of this is to maintain the credibility of the OCA’s institution. That it can be done and those who make decisions for all have got at least all the basics clear.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Ashley, for once I agree 100% with you.

      • Ashley Nevins says


        Lol, if you do then you are going against the Cannons! End of discussion! Close it down by closed system thinking that is stop think! Don’t think for yourself. Allow others to think for you! Trust the untrustworthy by not pulling the blinds in glass house the leadership lives in. Just trust them without repecting what you can inspect and without verifying to trust. That is cult thinking. The entire of this corrupt church failure is seen in the mind control of the evil one that leads to the corrupt church failure.

        Mark moved into the glass house. He knew better to be living in that lifestyle and taking on the role of leader of the expose’ when he did. As far as I am concerned that is a steatlh homosexual agenda for the church. If leadership is not held to the highest standard of Christian moral and ethical standards then you don’t have a real church that is the only true church by its claim to be that. You got a church administrated by SIN that results in a church of sin as its real truth in testimony and witness to a world looking for salvation from sin.

        The following will be difficult for most Orthodox to hear…

        Church outcome is its claim. Not a claim that does not have the outcome of its claim. That is how the reality of the real world sees this. Jesus proved His claim by living His claim. He proved to be salvation by how He lived salvation as solution to sin. That is TRUE CHURCH.

        When Satan destroys the salvation of a church the church operates like it has no salvation. It operates by sin. That is LIE CHURCH. Period.

        The church has the character of the one who controls the mind of the church. It is either truth or lie and the church outcome proves which one is in authority in the church.

        The administration of the church of sin is administrated by the leadership who participates in and enables the sin of the church administration. When the laity of a church is corrupted by sin that enables the sin of church administration that only shows the world that total systemic corruption of the church has taken place.

        Satans strategy is clear:

        1. Destroy moral and ethical leadership by relativism and situational ethics and morality.
        2. Destroy moral and ethical thinking of the laity be destroying it through following the church leadership into sin.
        3. Destroy the church by systemic corruption the moral and ethical standards of the entire church.

        It’s a really simple strategy. Destroy salvation in the church and you destroy the church. Sin in rule power and control destroys salvation over destroying sin. Sin does not destroy sin. Salvation destroys sin. Sin over salvation rules in the church of sin and the church outcome proves it. It is a destroyed church. Satan in rule power and control turns the ethics and morality of a church into his ethics and morality. He does it by mind control. He does it by mind control. He does it by mind control.

        When the church comes under the leadership of the administrators of sin the evil one rules over the Holy Spirit at the center of church administration. God is not the center of church administration that all in the church submit to by transparency and accountability. Satan and the world are in charge at the center of church administration. Satan is not transparent and accountable nor is the leadership he rules over in the church of sin. The leadership mimics who disciples their spiritual maturity and character. It only makes sense.

        Can your believe it!?! Satan rules over God in the church systemically corrupted by sin! Instead of the church taking back the territory stolen by evil it becomes part of evils territory stolen by sin. That is the death of a church by the corruption of salvation through sin. Salvation is to be our solution and not our END. Who and what rules over a church determines its spiritual maturity and spiritual character. That is the either the mind control of the Holy Spirit or it is the mind control of evil. Who controls the mind of the church controls the church outcome. It only makes sense.

        The NT tells us to take our thoughts captive to Christ or too sin? That determines the outcome of a church by how it thinks. Thought is thinking. Captive is who controls that thinking. Thinking for yourself is submission to thinking Christ first. Not thinking for yourself is submission to thinking evil first. Priority of thinking determines the priorities of a church and priorities are what determines its outcome.

        In the church controlled by the evil one Christ is used like a mask to hide the sin and to project a false image of God to deceive all involved in the sin. The surface of the church looks all Christian pretty, but below the surface evil is in rule behind the scenes pulling the puppet strings of the church. Sin becomes the defacto idol god of the church and no one sees it coming or realizes that is the state of the church until too late. When the evil one provides the solution to sin to deceive you that his solution is the solution he uses sin to deceive you into that and he uses sin to keep your from finding solution from sin by the deception used as the solution and the church then goes circular without solution. The priority of sin is not seen by the church as its priority for how it deceives the church into blindness to it. It is the evil one’s unseen agenda in strategy. His strategy goes unseen by deception by sin.

        If you could see it you would not fall for it. Well, on second thought, maybe you would by the looks of things. His strategy has been exposed in the open for years and no one did anything about it until too late and now look at who the evil one selected to lead the expose’ of the evil one. He could only do that if he was in complete systemic control of the church.

        Evil selects the one who leads the expose’ against him. If that ain’t conspiracy of sin deception to destroy all of you I don’t know what is. Is it any wonder why Mark is not held transparent and accountable with consequences that have real teeth by the evil one who is in rule power and control?

        Sin deceives the church into more sin when sin rules over the church. That is what happened with the leader of the expose’. Systemic sin corruption showed itself with Mark. He represented the laity and the laity without the NT sense of due diligence and vetting just followed him into more sin. The Pied Piper of evil rules over the laity and they are blind to him until he exposes himself with impunity from the laity. Mark proves the laity as untrustworthy and incompetent as those Mark originally confronted. The expose’ of the one who leads the expose’ proves the circular without solution state of church by sin.

        Satan is in mind control of the structure and system of the church and so he fears nothing. He can only do that if he strips the armor of God off the church and replaces it with sin. He destroys the armor of God protection by destroying salvation in the church. The defenseless church is then ruled over by sin as its salvation solution and everyone stands around and wonders what in the hell is going on when it is obvious hell is going on.

        The evil one is so sure he can destroy you in the wide open by sin leading sin into more sin he boldly parades around without consequences to those deceived by his rule over them by sin. The system is so corrupted by sin it can no longer hold itself transparent and accountable for sin being its ethics and moral value system. Sin cannot hold sin transparent and accountable, but it will to destroy the church by more HYPOCRISY when that happens.

        Sin administration that leads the church of sin to use sin as the solution to sin is cadre of sin ruling over the church. The leader of the expose’ is living in sin as the solution to church sin. Sin is circular without solution when used to break the bondage of sin. The delusional state sin places the church into believes sin is the solution to sin. It believes sin can lead the church out of sin. That is both irrationality and insanity ruling in the church and you can see that it is by the chaos and devastation it creates without real consequences that stop the sin.

        Satan is several personality disorders all rolled up into one evil being. The church ruled over by him takes on his pathology of personality disorders systemically. That is the total systemic corruption of a church. Oh, but in some Orthodox Minds I am violating the Cannons by paying attention and speaking into this. Pulling the blinds on the glass house of leadership is against the church in their made delusional by systemic sin corruption of minds.

        Sin makes a church delusional about itself by how sin and not the Holy Spirit are the mind of the church by complete systemic corruption of the church. Sin is the mind of the irrational and insane. The Holy Spirit is the mind of rationality and sanity. The system of the church is the mind of the church seen acting out what its mind really thinks. How a church thinks determines a church outcome.

        Can Orthodox salvation provide solution to the corrupt, failed, circular, irrelevant and dying church of sin?

        Sin in rule power and control by its salvation leads the church into this state of corrupt church failure. A lie of salvation causes this.

        Christ in rule power and control by His salvation results in a state of church that is safe, healthy, relational, dynamic, relevant and alive by salvation. The truth of salvation causes this.

        BTW, George, I also agree with myself 100% (hee, hee). I see the 100% into the strategy of the evil one to destroy the OCA and the EOC right along with it. It is a strategy of MIND CONTROL through a structure and system of church that is totalism mind control to begin with. If none of you have noticed Satan is totalism. The totalism structure and system of the EOC thinks single dimension we alone are Gods only right and true Christians in our Gods only right and true church. A totalism structure and system of church makes it easier for him to control the mind of the church totally. It cannot be wrong by sin for how right and true it is by claim. He’s got the EOC right where he wants it and its outcome is my proof. It only makes sense.

        Ashley Nevins

        • O Hamartolos says

          Hurricane Rick was the second-most intense Pacific hurricane on record and the strongest to ever form during October. Developing south of Mexico on October 15, 2009, Rick traversed an area favoring rapid intensification, allowing it to become a hurricane within 24 hours of being declared a tropical depression. An eye began to form during the afternoon of October 16; once fully formed, the storm underwent another period of rapid strengthening. During the afternoon of October 17, the storm attained Category 5 status on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. Several hours later, Rick attained its peak intensity as the second-strongest Pacific hurricane on record with winds of 180 mph (285 km/h). After maintaining this intensity ion of creativity or imagination. The word art comes from the Latin word ars, artis, which means “skill/craft/art”. Art is commonly understood as the act of making works (or artworks) which use the human creative impulse and which have meaning beyond simple description. While art is often distinguished from crafts and recreational hobby activities, this boundary can at times be hard to define. The term creative arts denotes a collection of disciplines whose principal purpose is the output of material for the component, Alpha Tucanae A, is an orange K-type giant with an apparent magnitude of +2.87. It is approximately 199 light years from Earth. The system is an astrometric binary, which means that the companion star has not been directly observed, but its presence has been inferred from measuring changes in the proper motion of the primary. The orbital period of the binary system is 1refers to the close approach of two planets together in the sky, or of the Moon to a star or planet as the Moon follows its monthly orbit around Earth, as seen by an observer located on Earth. An “appulse” can also be referred to as a conjunction.

          I think I have you beat. Try to unravel that little ball of yarn!

          • Christopher says

            Ashley is who he is at the moment. Pounding him about his obvious difficulties in communication (ones clearly not likely to be corrected by suggestions from posts on blogs) is at the very least lacking in foresight, if not Charity

  29. Just thought I would pass this along to anyone else interested.

    Knowing nothing at all about Bishop+Mark, and being in the DOS and therefore wanting to know more, I found this interesting (from the website of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry announcing their 2011 Convocation and list of speakers which includes Bishop+Mark)

    His Grace Bishop MARK was received into the Church through Holy Chrismation on Great and Holy Wednesday 1989. Soon after, he requested Metropolitan PHILIP’s blessing to attend St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. He received his Master of Divinity degree at St. Vladimir’s in 1991. Bishop MARK was ordained a deacon at the hand of Bishop ANTOUN at St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on August 17, 1997. On September 7, 1997, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St. George in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bishop MARK was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on December 5, 2004. His consecrating bishops included His Beatitude IGNATIUS IV at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus, Syria. He was enthroned at St. George Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio on August 25, 2005 and now serves as Bishop of the Diocese of Baltimore and the South, Orthodox Church in America. Bishop MARK is the Appointed Spiritual Overseer of OCPM for the Assembly of Bishops (formerly SCOBA). Aside from his spiritual supervision, His Grace has hands on experience, having personally visited with the inmate Orthodox community of believers at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, IN. Under His Omophorion the ministry of OCPM has spread across the U.S.

  30. Heracleides says

    For another perspective on Bp. Mark (from late 2007) follow the links at the end of the introduction below (I wonder why these items never merited mention during Stokoe’s canonization campaign of Bp. Mark over the last couple of years…):

    November 20, 2007

    Controversy in Fargo, ND

    Controversy that arose during a vote by a Fargo Orthodox Mission to approve the Antiochian constitution has led to a split in the group.

    Romanian Orthodox Cristina Mitrovici and others were concerned about approving the constitution after the following events:

    1. Analyzing the Antiochian constitution as it regards parish assets (they are/were using a church building owned by others outside the mission).
    2. The Antiochian priest went to the local bank to change signature cards on the mission accounts under disputed circumstances.
    3. A feeling by many parishioners that tithing (mandatory 10% donations) was being required in writing and that there was an over-emphasis on money.
    4. Discussions with former parishioners of Ben Lomond and Fort Wayne over heavy handed tactics and un-Christian actions by Antiochian Hierarchs.

    It is our understanding the what is left of the Antiochian mission has left the church and is in the process of finding another place to worship. The other group is in the process of finding another bishop for their mission. The two groups have reconciled the co-mingled funds issue.

    Sadly, though, Bishop Mark of Toledo has thrown gasoline on the fire by writing what can only be called a contentious and arrogant letter castigating those who had legitimate doubts and concerns and calling them “schismatics”.
    (See the link below.)
    In so doing, he confirms the worst fears of some thoughtful Orthodox Christians in Fargo, whose only “crime” was to dare to raise some questions.

    As the former parishioners and priest of Fort Wayne’s St. John Chrysostom parish (see Fort Wayne under news) were mentioned and their actions misrepresented in Bishop Mark’s letter, COCA is allowing Fr. Isaac Henke to respond. (See the link below.)

    Try to strip away preconceived notions, and the titles, locations, jurisdictions and geography; compare the two letters in terms of content, tone and import.

    While it is very sad that this occured, lessons can and should be learned.
    There are those who in a misguided attempt to calm the waters will say “forget about it and move on”. There are those who believe that order and discipline in the church is worth sweeping the sins and faults of laity, clergy and heirarchs under the rug.

    Forgiveness is required. Patience is required. But most importantly, the truth is required, otherwise all of us labor under false pretenses and the same patterns of bad behavior repeat themselves over and over.

    There is a need for “best practices” in parish life. There is a need for openness, transparency and truth. Monetary issues are not solved by forced tithing or greater hierarchical control over the parish treasury. On the contrary, the only answer to financial difficulties in Orthodoxy is a greater sprirituality on the part of parishes and hierarchs. In seeking to work out our “salvation in fear and trembling”, money is never an end, it is merely a tool that we use to help our neighbor, the fallen and the downtrodden. “Fear and trembling” may be what the powerful want from others in the church, but this is not Love. It is a sorry compromise of church administration and a distortion of Christ’s commandment:

    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. Luke 10:27

    • Forgive me, but is there something I’m missing in all of that? Because Bishop Mark’s letter reads to me as completely reasonable under the circumstances.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Fr. Henke is a member of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, i.e, un-canonical and therefore schismatic. I assume he was at the time of the squabble.

      I find +Mark’s letter in this instance to be direct, truthful and caring.

      Some parishoners both convert and cradel with ties to old country Ortho-practice (or what they beleive to be Ortho-practice) can be quite inflexible in their demands that the parish become ‘really’ Orthodox (with them to be the sole judge). Such attitudes and demands can be extrodinarily destructive in small mission parishes geographically isolated from the larger Orthodox community.

      It is a microcosm of the major problem we have here in the US: are we going to become a Apostolic Church embodying Holy Tradition and intent on bringing the Gospel to the United States or are we going to die the slow death of separated ethnarchies with separate (but equal) defintions of what it means to be Orthodox at the expense of the Gospel: American, Antiochian, Greek, and the various Balkanized Slavic jurisdictions?

      We have to pray that the Holy Spirit raise up good bishops and that we be obedient to them. Right now we seem to fall far short on both halves of that equation.

      • Chris Plourde says

        Rather than submit to a Bishop they believed to be flawed Fr. Henke and a portion of that mission sought out leadership they believed to be less flawed. I doubt they consider themselves schismatic, is is likely they consider themselves to have acted out of dire necessity.

        Sadly, this is not unusual in Russian Orthodox history, and it’s fairly common in American Protestant history, but it is un-Orthodox no matter which.

        When it comes to obedience and good bishops, that can seem like a chicken/egg scenario. If communities are waiting for a good bishop to be obedient, or bishops are waiting for an obedient community to be loving and good, everyone could be waiting a loooooong time.

        • A member says

          I was at that church at that time. While we believed what we were doing was the right thing (i.e. looking for more “Orthodox” leadership), we did not have all the facts at hand. There were no allegations of impropriety on the part of the priest or anyone else, but there were, probably, some concerns rightly held by the hierarchs. I believe we all had the best motives we could have, and I know that Bp. Mark was new to the scene. I know that there were probably some issues that needed to be addressed. Maybe they weren’t handled well, or even right, but I believe it is more an example of human nature and failings than any nefariousness on Bp. Mark’s part or the AOC’s bishops.

          The church in FW was not a mission. It has been in the city since the 1950s I believe and continues to this day. Some of those involved wandered back to canonical Orthodox churches. Some never left canonical churches.

          One of the things I’m noticing about your little blog here, and ALL of the comments with a few exceptions is a complete lack of nuance and grace. There is no room in any of your minds for human error and honest disagreements. Frankly, it’s kinda gross. In your obsession with sex and who you think may be doing it wrong (even though you have precious little evidence to that effect), you just look silly.”Lavender mafia”? Really? You want the right thing for the Church? Good. Go pray and talk to your priests. Give to charity. Live out the life of the Resurrection. Let the bishops sort out their own mess. Does it have anything to do with you other than giving you something to talk about? We’re not talking about the cover-up of vast incidences of sexual abuse by the bishops. The financial mess was largely cleaned up. But here ya’ll are, yelling back and forth about who’s got the bigger spiritual you-know-what and who’s going to be the last one standing when the OCA goes to hell.

          It’s not going to. There are good men in leadership. There are some not-so-good. That’s the way of things. It’s always been the way of thing.

          Go be Christians, for God’s sake.

      • Ashley Nevins says

        If you can answer this one question correctly it will lead the EOC in America to solution to its corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state. The answer to the question has the potential to turn your church into mission and evangelism relevancy to America…

        What is the cause of the systemic corruption of the EOC jurisdictions in America?

        It is not the Patriarch’s, bishops, priests, monastics or laity. They are a symptom pointing to the cause. The cause causes the problem and not the symptom. Now, if you don’t believe it is systemic corruption going on look at the OCA and GOA hierarchies and church that they rule over. I can take you to the Serbs and Russians after that if you still don’t believe me.

        So, what is the cause?

        If the EO in America cannot with integrity in objective transparent honestly about themselves answer that question it is over for the EO in America. It’s only a matter of time and time is not on the Orthodox side.

        So, what is the cause?

        Ashley Nevins

        PS: The question and its correct answer is for you and not against you.

    • Why don’t you find out a little more about what happened before you use Fargo in some attempt to blacken Bishop Mark? His response to Fargo was quite appropriate. One issue at a time, folks. Legitimate questions concerning emails are one thing but to piece meal something together, when you do so without knowing what really happened is another. Please! Here is a rather clean history of our parish. Start here:

      • Thank you, Fr. Oliver. It’s nice to see the Fargo mission has weathered many storms and continues to be a faithful witness to the true faith.

        Bishop Mark may have his issues, but Mr. Henke’s letter read less like a rebuke of a tyrannical bishop and more like it was simply an apologia for schism.

  31. Ashley Nevins says


    Yes, all of you keep praying, but don’t take the actions necessary to raise up moral, ethical and competent bishops. Leave it to someone else to do and those that you pray for will do it for you.

    If you want to change the outcome of your bishop rule from corruption to relevancy you are going to have to change the structure and system of church that is the bishops discipleship and leadership development, or you can pray that God does this for you without any of you taking action to change anything for yourselves by thinking for yourselves.

    Let those you pray for think for you and they will produce the bishops you want. That is exactly what I heard you asking the good Orthodox folks to pray for.

    Please list your prayer request list for all of us to see how to pray for this different bishop outcome. We want to know how to pray for them as the solution to the corruption that they create and rule over. It is this prayer, please God change our outcome of bishops for us? Sounds like it to me. How have those kinds of prayers worked up to this point in time in the OCA? Well?

    So, you didn’t think Mark was an answer to prayer to change the way the hierarchy operates? From all indictations I have read he was considered an answer to prayer when he showed up on the scene. Yes, keep praying that OTHERS provide the bishop solution and let’s see what that solution results in. Did those prayers lead to the vetting due diligence of Mark and the bishops? If God is hearing your prayers then what is God not hearing your prayers look like? I think it looks like the outcome of the OCA.

    You are assuming God hears your prayers and that the more you pray the more God brings solution.

    He is the Orthodox solution: What keeps God from hearing our prayers that leads us to Gods solution?

    Answer that question and you will find solution.

    Ashley Nevins

  32. Michael Bauman says

    “The rule of Christ is that we do NOT come down from the cross.”
    Some systems are arbitrary, but some systems are more than purely systematic. The truth is that when a system is God-given – and the attachment of individual Churches to bishops is God-given – it undoubtedly involves crosses that we are MEANT to carry. If we take ourselves out of the system, then we protect our sense of agency, but we miss out on potentially on what God wants to teach us. Some systems are not ideals, they are simply the reality in which we live, like fish in water or pigs in mud (I apply the last simile strictly to specimens like myself).

    But my final point is this: we make a mistake when we act towards the Church as we might do towards bureaucracy (that is, rule by an office). The rule of Christ is that we do NOT come down from the cross. It is not that we come down from the cross and bash our enemies – or those we consider the enemies of Christ. Success is not our criterion; Christ is our criterion. Charity is not a hypothesis or a postulate. It is the life of God himself.

    From: B. J. Sudlow, “On Systems and Charity.”

    From Fr. Gregory Jensen’s blog Koinonia

    • Christopher says

      Hum. IMO such thinking can be used to justify any church or philosophy through the ages. After all, a person born into X culture and religion is a God given reality, just like fish in water. Should they also not treat their reality as something more than a bureaucracy? The question answers itself. No, sometimes a bureaucracy is a bureaucracy, even in the Church. Charity towards all things yes, but let’s call a spade a spade…

    • Ashley Nevins says

      Here is the difficulty.

      What is the cause of the systemic corruption of the EOC jurisdictions in America and that are circular without solution by the systemic corruption?

      The difficulty is the Orthodox cannot answer the question.

      Answer that one question correctly and it will lead you to solution.

      Was that difficult to understand?

      So, what is the cause?

      Too difficult to answer?

      Ashley Nevins

      PS: Your post provided no solution to the systemic corruption of the Orthodox.

  33. O Hamartolos says

    George, it’s time to start a new discussion on Bishop Benjamin. That issue seems to me to be at the heart of what is really going on here, or at least, it was what set off this chain of unfortunate events.

    • Heracleides says

      Funny you should mention Bp. Benjamin…

      If you and others would care to view my latest attempt at (very non-PC) satire, my latest image is up at:

      (Yes, I admit to having a bias – I’ve met the man and he makes my skin crawl.)

      • I’m still laughing at the Grant Wood cartoon. So funny. I am not biased… I am not biased… I am not biased…

      • O Hamartolos says


        I have to say I don’t find it funny. I know, I know, I know, you’re just kidding. But, this is a gravely troubling turn of events that needs to be met head on with our heads screwed on straight, not to mention fear and trembling. We’re not here to crucify or even humiliate Bishop Benjamin. Don’t get me wrong, my lower nature would love nothing more than that. We need to call him into account, not simply for the charges leveled against him in the letter, (which are grave and disturbing) but for his bellicose actions towards our Metropolitan. Due process must be shown him as well.

        • Heracleides says

          I agree with due process and all (to bad such was not afforded to Met. Jonah). However, there are many types of court, and in the court of public opinion satire has its place. I did warn that the image was non-PC, and while I make no apology for it, those with pious and/or weak constitutions should probably refrain from viewing it.

        • I don’t think Heracleides was kidding.

        • Ashley Nevins says

          An honest question: what is Orthodox due process?

          Is that process a Holy Spirit centered spiritual process or a religious political process of corrupt bishops?

          It seems to me that the structure and system church has to be compatible with due process for due process to take place. If it is a religious political structure and system and not spiritual structure and system then due process is worldly and not of God.

          If there is a problem with due process by bishops that directly relates to a problem in due diligence of the bishops?

          All I know is that in a corrupt system there is no due process and like there is no due diligence. There is, however, circle the wagons of bishop club self protection, religious caste or class of bishop superiority, ego’s of power and control bishops and misplaced loyality to bishops. That is a political church and not a spiritual church.

          It seems to me that good due diligence of bishops will result in good due process by the bishops. One leads to the other by competent due spiritual dilengence over sight of the church. That in my mind is a laity responsibility to make sure that happens.

          Orthodox, is there truth in this statement? Due process is in eye of the beholder bishops who rule by totalism power and control and therefore define by their absolute power and control what that due process is.

          If that is their attitude then your church is going to have very serious problems with the rule of law in rule of law based America. That authority problem that is in authority will destroy your church over time by seeing itself above and outside the rule of law. If it operates above and outside the rule of God then it will operate above and outside the rule of law. You know, like when the Greek EP protected those monks in Astoria, NY and the bishops protected Katinas in Chicago.

          How can the OCA have due process when the +Seraphim supporters are not about the rule of law by how they have supported him? That is a systemic church problem and not just a bishop problem. It is a laity as well as a bishop problem. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty, but where is the laity objectivity in their defending of him? I do not see objectivity in their due process of that bishop. I see misplaced loyalty in a cult of personality over loyalty to the objective moral and ethical standards of God.

          That is closed system thinking and it is always found to be highly subjective and based upon its FEELINGS over the objective facts of evidence. Feelings do not prove guilt or innocense. Evidence does. If you loose objectivity about your bishops I promise they will go corrupt and they will lead all of you into their corruption by misplaced loyalty to them first over loyalty to God first. Misplaced loyalty at that level is pure idolatry and the idolators will alway defend the idol no matter what the evidence. Their moral standard is not God. It is the idol. I personally believe all those who support Seraphim are going to get a moral reality check from Canadian moral law.

          The due process that all of you are discussing has serious other consequences associated to the long term survival of the OCA. You know, like consequences by breaking the rule of law as a result of believing you are above and outside the rule of law.

          This all sounds like a church killer lawsuit just waiting to happen. It all looks and sounds very religious political by dictates and not at all Holy Spirit centered by due process. Its all about subjective me, myself and I in power and control bishops over the objective good of the church by humble leadership.

          Any church laity that submits to that as Holy Spirit filled and lead leadership is going to get rude awakening that their deception leads them into.

          Any church laity that submts to that as Holy Spirit filled and lead leadership is going to be corrupted by its leadership role model and example.

          What, you don’t believe me? Who is Mark in all of this now? Is he corruption led or Holy Spirit led? I would say the whole system of church is corruption led by the state of the church.

          Competent bishop due diligence leads to competent bishop due process. It only makes sense.

          So, anyone complaining about the due process needed to complain first a long time ago about bishop due diligence vetting. That complaining did not happen, did it? Oh, but you are all complaining now of the lack of ethical/moral due process. It’s a systemic problem and you are all a part of the system that is the problem. You are all complaining about yourselves if you want to be objectively honest about it.

          This is all victim of my own consequences talk. A church of victims that cannot find healing is a church that will surely die in time. A church of consequences that cannot with true spiritual integrity in transparency and accountability walk through its consequences will not come out the other side of its consequences without more consequences.

          A incompetent process of bishop due process results in a church of victimizing spiritual abuse as its due process. Is that an accurate statement? Is Jonah the victim here or is he really a victim of his own consequences that he and the entire church created for themselves? Face it, Jonah does not have the spiritual maturity, leadership experience or the leadership competency to lead as senior leader of a large church. The bishops of his most profound respect do not respect him and like they are men worthy of respect to begin with. All of you wanted those bishops to rule over you and your due diligence of them proves it now. Incompetent due diligence results in incompetent selection of leadership.

          Frankly, the incompetent laity got its incompetent bishops by incompetent due diligence and now the incompetent laity complain about their incompetent leadership selections. The character of a church hires that same character to lead it. Get it?

          Incompetency in due diligence of leaders leads to church victimization. It only makes sense.

          The church of victimization is not the church of relevancy to our generation. The relevancy church moves people from a victim state to a victorious state and it does not rob them of the victory in Christ by making them victims to what is supposed be fellowship with Christ as church.

          We are told to love one another. We are not told to victimize one another.

          Ashley Nevins

          • ohamartolos says

            I give up, you win. Your literary awesomeness is just too blinding to be penetrated by mere human mind.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Heracleides, I love your wicked sense of humor!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      I’m thinking much along the same lines…

  34. Y’all would not believe the craziness going on today in Dallas. +Nikon arrived today for meetings with parishioners of the cathedral over this Bishop Mark crisis. Mark refused requests to post the locum tenens’ schedule on the parish email list, even though the reason Nikon is in town is to talk with the people. A parish council member who had arranged with Nikon to pick him up at DFW got to the airport and found that Mark and his sidekick Fr David Moretti had shown up earlier and whisked Nikon away.

    This is like a bad Hollywood movie. Mark ain’t right in the head.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Interfering with another bishop’s agenda (especially one who is locum tenen) . . . this is starting to look like a scene out of a Hollywood movie.

  35. This is what I had to say about Bishop Benjamin after reading that letter: “Golly! Well I’ll be switched. Who knew?”

    • Chris Plourde says

      I think taking such a letter at face value is inherently problematic. My experience is that letters like this invariably say more about their authors than about their recipients or targets, as the letters above (348) between Bishop Mark and Fr. Henke, illustrate.

    • Heracleides says

      Agreed about Bp. Nikolai’s letter ratting out Bp. Benjamin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – who is a more likely candidate to have the dirt on a brother bishop than Bp. Nikolai Soraich…?

      I don’t know if you are aware Rachel, but when the letter first appeared, a few people tied themselves in knots saying that there was no ‘proof’ that Nikolai had really written that letter. Now, after the theft and publication of Fr. Fester’s emails we find confirmation in them from Bp. Nikolai that he did indeed write the letter appearing on Stan/Vara’s blog. Guess that is the one (and likely only) good thing to arise from Bp. Mark’s theft.

      • Ashley Nevins says

        What ever anyone thinks about Nikolai Jonah is just as culpable. Jonah not having the appearance of EVIL as the Word of God tells us is found communicating with Nikolai. That reveals insecurity, immaturity, lack of wisdom, no discernment and proof of his true character. That even made the face of OCA Truth blush.

        The bishop corruption issue is a systemic problem in every EOC jurisdiction. America’s two largest jurisdictions are ruled over by incompetent, corrupt and lust for power filled men. Those jurisdictions are dying slow, painful and ugly deaths. I have read both the news and the 2010 Orthodox census. Listening to all of you is first hand knowledge and experience.

        Their corruption has a CAUSE. This problem has a systemic cause. The bishops are not the cause. Yes, I know, you can’t believe that they are not the cause. They look just like the cause, don’t they? I mean, its their leadership doing this to the church, right? They are not the cause. Those are symptoms pointing to the cause.

        Can anyone tell me what the systemic cause is? Hint, what is the source or cause of a church system? What creates the system of a church?

        Can you find solution by only treating the symptoms of cancer or is it better to go right to the cancer itself and treat it there? The bishops are not the cause. The system of bishops is not the cause. The system of bishops origin is from another source.

        Good Orthodox who can think for yourselves. What is the objective cause? Is Orthodoxy objective about itself or is it subjective about itself? Can Gods only one true church of Gods only right objectivity see the CAUSE?

        If you do not objectively see the cause the cause will kill your church dead by the cancer of its systemic spread. What is the source of the systemic spread of the cancer?

        That is Christian rational thinking that is not western. It is right out of Gods Word. You don’t have to be eastern or western Christian to know that. It is the objective God of the Gospels and NT. Any Christian can see it in the Gospels and NT. The systemic spread of corruption has a cause that creates the system of corruption that spreads the corruption. That is what Gods Word tells us.

        So, what is the cause?

        Yes, I know you don’t like me. I am an outsider to the cause. Red flag number one. I disagree with you and ask you to think for yourselves to cause. Red flag number two. I can be sarcastic about it and not easy to hear for how tough I am on the issues the cause creates. Red flag number three. What do any of those things have to do with the Orthodox finding the objective systemic cause? Nothing, if the church is truly objective about itself.

        So, what is the cause?

        Ashley Nevins

        • Ashley, you sure seem to have an awful lot of free time on your hands.
          Don’t you have anything else in your life to keep you entertained?

          • Ashley Nevins says

            Perfect timing on your part… thank you, for setting this up…

            The story of the two largest Orthodox jurisdictions in America:

            Nothing changes. Nothing works. Nothing is going to change and nothing is going to work.

            The Orthdox seem to have a lot of time on their hands to spend it on something that will not work and will not change to work.

            Orthodox church management is circular without solution for how it wastes gifts, talents, time and money on what does not work or will not change to work. That is the Orthodox working out their salvation in the reality of the real world.

            Salvation is, humility to repentance to transformation to innovation to change to relevancy to salvation that works. That is salvation in the reality of the real Christian world. It works and when it finds itself not working it can by HUMILITY change to work. The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is too proud to change to what works. Pride believes it works and the outcome of pride proves it does not work.

            You have to be objective by objective salvation that works and can change to work to see this. Orthodox salvation does not work because it does not lead to change that works. Pride does not lead to change that works. Pride is subjective. Humility is objective. Humility leads to change that works. If you are Orthodox, and therefore highly subjective, you will never find the objectivity to realize you are spending time on what does not work and will not change to work.

            This is salvation that does not work: Pride to unrepentance to no transformation to no innovation to no change to no relevancy to a church that does not work.

            You are right. I do not need to spend time on what will not work or change to work. I can be objective about myself. You seem to be subjective about this and so you do not see that nothing is going to change and so nothing is going to work. You are trying to be objective about me, but you cannot be objective about yourself.

            Now, I ask you a question, why do you spend time on what will not work and will not change to work?

            I can walk away from what does not work or cannot change to work. Can you walk away from what will not work or will not change to work? You seem to have a lot of time on your hands to spend it on something that will not work and will not change to work.

            I can walk. You cannot walk. I can change. You cannot change. That is the difference in our salvation. One can change to work and one cannot change to work.

            Why do you stay with what cannot work and will not work? You stay because it is your salvation that does not work and cannot change to work. Since your salvation can not do either of these things you cannot either. So, you do not work or change to work either. You cannot walk to change that works. I can walk to change that works.

            Your salvation keeps you in bondage with what will not work or change to work. You take on the character of what will not change or will not work and so you do not change away from what will not work or will not change to work. You have the character of what your salvation truly is in the real world. It does not work nor will it change to work.

            I am walking now. My salvation gives me the freedom to walk from what does not work or will not change to work. You cannot walk. Your salvation does not give you the freedom to walk from what will not work and will not change to work. Your salvation is not change to what works.

            Christ is the Gospels is change to what works. That is salvation that transforms and it transforms a church into what works. A salvation that is not salvation cannot transform a church into what works. It lies, steals and kills rather than transforms, innovates and changes. One salvation is church relevancy and life and the other salvation is church irrelevancy and death.

            Orthodox salvation cannot provide change away from its corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state. It is not transformation by salvation to change that works. Its outcome proves its salvation does not work.

            The Orthodox claim of being Gods only alone right and one true church on the planet in effect is a claim that its salvation in that claim does not work by the outcome seen in the real world outside of the Orthodox world of unreality that does not work. The outcome of the claim proves the claim does not work and so the claim is a lie. Truth works. Reality works. Lies do not work. Unreality does not work. It only makes sense in the reality of the real world and where it matters with the Gospel that works, but does not work in your claim of church.

            Yes, I know, I got it all Orthodox wrong. That is why I am walking and you are staying.

            Ashley Nevins

            • JDWatton says

              The Orthodox claim to know where the church is but don’t claim to know where it is not. They do not deny that there is the possibility of salvation outside the Orthodox church. They do claim an unbroken continuity with the Apostolic church through their bishops. That claim is very strong and important to us. Other churches such as Roman Catholics, Monophystites (Coptics, Armenians, etc.) and Assyrians can also make that claim of continuity. Can yours? I for one, want to be in communion with the true church of today and yesterday and the future.

              • Monk James says

                Christ is risen! Truly risen!

                Dear Friends —

                Our correspondent JD Watson has missed an important point here.

                We do indeed know where The Church is, and we gratefully and humbly take our place in it and hope that our participation in the life of The Church, the very Body and Bride of Christ our Lord, will help us ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’.

                At the same time, though, we mortals have no idea how the Lord God makes Himself known to other people outside The Church. What we DO know, though, from the authentically orthodox catholic christian tradition, is that God created everything, all the worlds, including us, in love.

                So it’s not only possible but very likely that God will save the heterodox and the nonchristians, but we have no way of knowing how.

                We must behave with complete acceptance and respect toward the divine self-revelation with which we’ve been favored. We can’t speak of the relationship with God which other people might have apart from what God chose to reveal to us. May the Lord make us worthy of the Way and the Truth and the Life which He revealed to us.

                The Tradition tells us that it’s God’s intention to bring everything and all of us back to Himself at the same time as we human beings have the option to decline His offer.

                But please, friends, let’s not do that. Let’s strive to imitate Christ Who became like us so that we could become like Him. ‘God became human so that we human beings might become divine.’ (St Athansios)

                Other religions, even the catholic and protestant varieties, don’t seem to get this.

                Peace and blessings of the Lord’s resurrection to all.

                Monk James

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Letter to Monk James

                  Monk James, I tried posting this at least three times, but it would not go through. I hope it does this time. I made several more comments in between the lines on the other posts that got lost, but it’s getting too late to keep rewriting them. I’m trying again here. Hope you read this.

                  Would you be able or willing to help me understand some of the statements, questions and replies that were made during the discussion that took place at the 15th All – American Council, November 10-13, 2008, in Pittsburgh, PA? here is the link I used: Feel free to comment, reply, or not, anyway you like. If it would not be good timing to answer, I understand. Here goes. What’s in boldface has been cut and pasted from the minutes of that 15th AAC Meeting:

                  Gregg Nescott : There is a third Kondratick suit against the OCA. Another matter: PR did not do a report. They only submitted documents, most of which have been published. The Justice Committee has been in a battle with PR to get some of our documents back since it’s not always been clear who they were working for. PR keeps promising that they will turn over everything but they have been so far withholding a lot of documents.

                  Have the documents been returned, and are they relevant?

                  Rebecca Matovic: There are various amounts of money listed in the SIC report. What do you believe, in rough terms, is the full figure of the money that has been misused?
                  Bp. Benjamin: It is impossible to say and would be irresponsible in absence of complete information. We don’t know whether some or all of this money was honestly distributed. Order of magnitude seems to be $1mil upwards. What we learned is that record-keeping is very important.

                  Any comment? Bp. Benjamin said, “We don’t know whether some of all of this money was honestly distributed” Was some or all of it honestly distributed?

                  By the way, compare the statement as it appears on the first web site that I used, to the wording of his reply as it appears in the minutes on the web site: I don’t think we know the full extent. It is important to note that some of the missing money could have been correctly disbursed – we just do not know because there was no recordkeeping.” That sure has a different feel to it.

                  Can you tell me anything about where the money went?

                  Anthony Kasmer: Were no donations ever deposited into checking accounts?
                  Bp. Benjamin: The money were deposited. What we cannot follow is disbursements.
                  Anthony Kasmer: No bank transaction checks? All cash withdrawals under $10K?
                  Bp. Benjamin: Yes. We cannot tell what happened with the money.


                  Fr. Chad Hatfield: If money laundering in Russia is involved, then our Dept. of External Affairs was involved. Were they interviewed?
                  Bp. Benjamin: Yes, both Fr. Kishkovsky and Fr. Zacchaeus Wood were interviewed. A lot of expenses were used for entertaining foreign guests, going over budget – in unknown amounts.
                  Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky: What was listed as External Affairs budget has never been controlled by External Affairs. I never even knew our budget. When the need arouse I would go the Chancellor and ask for permission. If the answer was yes, it was done; if the answer was no, it was not done. That was the only kind of interaction the Dept. of External Affairs had with the budget. About money and Russia: in the early 90s there was chaotic situation in Russia and the church in Russia was actually poor. I was present when the envelopes were given to clergy in Russia for various needs. He has carried $3,000 from Met. Theodosius to the priest in Moscow for the hospital, and it was given to that priest. So some money have made it to the people and goals they were intended to. It is also a fact that at that time most of money went into Russia in cash, including money from the US government agencies and charities. I asked the Chancellor myself why there was no record-keeping and didn’t get an answer. If there was proper record-keeping then many questions would have been answered.

                  Would you comment about this?

                  That was when they were approached by Fr. Zacchaeus reporting concerns about misuse of funds designated for the orphanages.

                  Would you address this, as well as the SIC report concerning all the money that was reported to have been misappropriated? Christmas Stocking Fund? 911 Fund? Children’s Funds? Personal money? Etc.? I’m asking, not accusingly, but just asking.

                  It’s extremely hard to be falsely accused when you are innocent. If Father Kondratick is innocent, this might be as good a time as any to speak out with more information and more answers. Are there any documents that can be posted from the court case when Fr. K was cleared and the judge threw out the charges? If Proskauer Rose is a well-respected law firm, how does it happen that their findings were not acceptable to the judge? How can it be that Fr. Kondratick is innocent, and yet so much evidence has been piled up that condemns him? Why are so many so absolutely convinced he is guilty, if he is innocent?


                  Jane, (I used the name “Rachel” for a while on this blog, but changed it to Jane because it’s my real middle name.)

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Look, the questions have been asked. Let him say who he is. Let him answer if he wants to. Let him provide evidence if he has it.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Writing that as if you don’t know who he is. In this world, that’s called fake.

            • Ashley, here is what works: Atypical antipsychotics and lithium (level consistently 1.0-1.2).

  36. Michael Bauman says

    Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus

    Reading from the Synaxarion:

    Saint Epiphanius was born about 310 in Besanduc, a village of
    Palestine, of Jewish parents who were poor and tillers of the soil. In his
    youth he came to faith in Christ and was baptized with his sister,
    after which he distributed all he had to the poor and became a monk,
    being a younger contemporary of Saint Hilarion the Great (see Oct. 21),
    whom he knew. He also visited the renowned monks of Egypt to learn
    their ways. Because the fame of his virtue had spread, many in Egypt
    desired to make him a bishop; when he learned of this, he fled, returning
    to Palestine. But after a time he learned that the bishops there
    also intended to consecrate him to a widowed bishopric, and he fled to
    Cyprus. In Paphos he met Saint Hilarion, who told him to go to
    Constantia, a city of Cyprus also called Salamis. Epiphanius answered that he
    preferred to take ship for Gaza, which, despite Saint Hilarion’s
    admonitions, he did. But a contrary wind brought the ship to Constantia where,
    by the providence of God, Epiphanius fell into the hands of bishops
    who had come together to elect a successor to the newly-departed
    Bishop of Constantia, and the venerable Epiphanius was at last
    constrained to be consecrated, about the year 367. He was fluent in Hebrew,
    Egyptian, Syriac, Greek, and Latin, and because of this he was called
    “Five-tongued.” He had the gift of working miracles, and was held in such
    reverence by all, that although he was a known enemy of heresy, he was well
    nigh the only eminent bishop that the Arians did not dare to drive
    into exile when the Emperor Valens persecuted the Orthodox about the
    year 371. Having tended his flock in a manner pleasing to God, and
    guarded it undefiled from every heresy, he reposed about the year 403,
    having lived for ninety-three years. Among his sacred writings, the one
    that is held in special esteem is the Panarion (from the Latin
    Panarium, that is, “Bread-box,”) containing the proofs of the truth of the
    Faith, and an examination of eighty heresies.

  37. araminta says

    Its very distressing to note the emerging patterns of behavior that lead to some even more dismal conclusions on my part. Certainly, they are observations and opinions and in turn they lead to even more questions.

    But first It would really be benificial to saving the OCA if everyone would begin to see.
    1. You can commit terrible crimes and still have people who love you and claim your character is without blemish. Just ask all the moms of all the guys in prison.
    So…a. You can take millions from your company traveling, eating, and spending all over the world and still give great advice, have a charming personality, a good education, and even good intention.
    2 Ditto, addictions, sexual misconduct, ABUSE and all sort of other serious problems.

    What is emerging is an agreement amongst those putting forth names for leadership that if I do favors for you and promote you – you owe me your loyalty in return.
    There is a scary parrallel in +Nikolais correspondence.
    In one of Festers he points out all he has done(in his view) for +Met Jonah
    In his letter to +BB he points out all he did for +BB.
    The implication is you should rub my back. in return.
    I s that the standard?
    I think so.
    Consider, + BB promotes FR. Jonah to become +Bishop of the South.
    By miracle +MJ gets elected Met.
    The expectation was always that he would be a good boy and do what they wanted.
    1. He flubs the admistrative role and frustrates the MODERNIST linier thinkers around him who had planned to run the show.
    2. He then defies practice and begins to act like a Orthodox christian. Why he doesn’t jump out of the alter with his new staff in hand and call the authorities regarding +Seriphim over a rumor he just heard about a possible crime committed 30 years ago.
    Note: Despite the old view points from the good sisters at Prokov. People these days are accusing each other of all sorts of awful stuff.(Where there is smoke there is not always fire.)
    3. Then he doesn’t jump into the fray over a possibble homo alliance down south.
    Clearly both these situations were hardly threatening to “children, the church, or the general public.
    Eventually, the law in Canada decided it was more than rumor and has moved on it.
    So if these situations were around for years doesn’t it seem as though maybe someone should have handle them before +Met Jonah stepped in to be the scapegoat? They nail him in Santa F e on slow process and so he steps up and says so lets investigate alegations against +BB.
    4. Added to this, he signs the Mahattin agreement. And talks unity with the enemy Christians.WOW.
    +BB gets the assasination squad of the west to help him bring down +Met and uses some of the tecniques learned in Alaska. MS is on board already and Glarkavs is fed up and fiddles with a report and Faith looks for a hook.
    Again, pattern
    +Nikolai can’t get near St. Paul
    +Met Jonah can’t get near Manton.
    I guess some of the assasination squad might have visited the monastery.
    +Nikolai is accused of reckless spending.
    +Met should be put on a line items control budget.
    What does Melenie Riga have on that.?
    Nikolai is put on leave and exits Alaska
    +Met Jonah is put on leave and ask to check into rehab.
    The plan fails and the statute becomes a better option.
    Why go AFTER NUNS IN DC?
    Well, if you are not planning to have +MET Jonah anywhere why would you want the responsibilitiy of a creation he left behind.? Don’t let him get too settled. Seattles coming and the Coup with it.
    +MARKS in line and doesn’t talk to +MET Jonah. NO need to. He is going to be gone soon enough.
    The unfortunate Fr. Fister way oversteps his place after a really big second chance to work and mind his own business goes sour and it offends just about everyone.
    I seem to get it the OCA is already gone. The real question is why or how could the Met actually stay in a church that already is no more.?
    You all in South have got one of the back scratches to deal with and he seems really cranky.
    How tragic.

    • A Remnant says

      Think you forgot a couple of others, don’t forget +Tikon, +Theodosius and +Herman

      Same scenario accuse them of something, (something with a basis) then publicly badger them through the only online “news” venue, start investigations, add some MC Members for transparency and accountability, badger them some more, add on counts of malfeasance, then just strike a deal for them to retire. Of course you wouldn’t want to do the honorable thing since a Spiritual Court, would put the church through too much term oil, so a negotiated retirement is OK

      Scapegoat the Chancellor, name two unindicted co-conspirator and continue to besmirch them until they stumble and then get rid of them. Of course someone may have to trip them by stealing emails but that is OK. You know the contents of the emails prove they and the +Met are bad.

      You might want to think about the same names that surface in all of these situations, no conspiracy here.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        I wish to thank “A Remnant” for his post,, and also Rachel/Jane for all her posts here. Further, however, I want to correct a misunderstanding which I perceive in A Remmant’s message. No human being of any sex or religion or age ever asked me to retire or even hinted at it. I announced, freely and without coaching or suggestion, at my last Holy Synod meeting that I had decided to retire. This was the same Holy Synod meeting to which Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick had been invited and which he had agreed to attend WITHOUT CONDITION, including the presence of legal counsel, with which he agreed to dispense, in order to answer any questions we might be pleased to ask him. He had agreed to appear on the last day of the Synod’s meeting. During the night before that session, however, a couple or three members of the Holy Synod met with Bishop Seraphim and pleaded successfully with him to persuade Metropolitan Herman that Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick should NOT attend the meeting the next day. The next day as we began the morning session I asked, “”Where is Father Bob?” Metropolitan Herman said, “He’s not coming.” I said, “”Why not?” Metropolitan Herman said, “We told him not to.” I said, “Why?” Archbishop Nathaniel said,, “Oh, you know, he would have wanted to bring in his lawyer and so forth.” I said, “No, that is completely untrue, he agreed to appear without his lawyer.” Archbishop Nathaniel said, “Oh, he wouldn’t have answered our questions anyhow, it would be a waste of time.” I said, “How can you say thst until he has appeared?” The Metropollitan then said, typically, “Oh, it’s too late now anyhow, he’s left the area.” I experienced a kind of temptation to say something that would put Chis Banescu’s vicious invective totally in the shade, but I did not. “The meeting proceeded to its conclusion, and I returned to my diocese to serve out the rest of the time until my date of retirement.
        I was honored and humbled by the magnificent retirement the Diocese arranged for me at the St. Paul Church, Las Vegas, Father Eric Tosi, Rector, where, after the banquet avideo was shown summarizing the years of my incumbency as Bishop of San Francisco and the West.

    • It’s pretty disgusting, really, when you place it in the context of how dysfunctional the OCA “leadership” seems to have ever been.

      I also agree that the last shoe in this particular drama has not yet dropped.

    • Harry Coin says

      It can be a strain, holding the light just so.

  38. Michael Bauman says

    When we pray for others, to some extent we enter into a relationship of responsibility. I do not necessarily take something away from someone else, but I willingly thrust myself into the living communion established in Christ, and unite my life with theirs in a mysterious manner. To pray “for the world” is thus not a light thing – but the greatest possible burden. Christ bears the burden to its fullest possible extent. He took upon Himself the sins of the world. This is God’s great anadoche. Christ has become the surety of a better covenant (Heb. 7:22).

    But because our lives are united in a communion established by Christ, there are other forms of responsibility, or sharing, as well. We are commanded of Christ not to judge another “lest we ourselves be judged.” This teaching is far deeper than a warning that God will do to us what we do to others. Indeed, God is far more merciful. Rather, Christ’s words are a warning that judging is a dangerous activity.

    To judge another is to enter into the life of another – to inadvertently enter into their sins and weakness. Condemnation, according to Christ, is darkness (John 3:19). The communion into which we are called is a communion of love, in which we bear one another’s burdens freely and with love. The communion of darkness is a communion of coercion and force, where sins are not forgiven and where hatred, greed and envy hold court.

    An excerpt from Fr. Stephen Freeman’s latest post on his blog, Glory to God for All Things: The Things We Share

    It is a formidiable task to approach the sins of others and remain loving. The more we personalize the sin, the less loving we will be. That is the ultimate evil of creating scapegoats. We are projecting our own sins onto the souls of others and seeking a sacrifice other that Christ’s. We do this to avoid sharing and to avoid facing the darkness of our own soul.

    Fortunately, there are those within the OCA who are attempting to stem the tide with sobriety. Look for them and follow them. Pray for the bishops, not at them. Pray for whomever you consider the enemies to be here. Reject high mindedness. As Fr. Stepehen rightly points out, by doing so (really doing so) unity and healing can begin because we will be entering into each other’s life in Christ.

    Our struggle is not with flesh and blood.

    P.S. By praying for someone rather than at them, I mean that any mention in the prayer of any change in the other person’s behavior to be in acord with what we desire should not happen. Rather, our prayers should be for our own forgiveness of them and for their salvation.

  39. “Reject high mindedness.” I like that.

  40. We keep your page. Watch it offline again soon. Very interesting article.